You can safely buy medicine online if you use online pharmacies recommended by the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy. This organization verifies Internet drugstores throughout the United States and most Canadian provinces.
You can visit the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy website at https://safe.pharmacy to find out which online drugstores are recommended and which aren't.
It's also safe to buy medicine through your health insurance company's website.
Don't trust an online drugstore if:
- The website doesn't ask you for a prescription.
- The drugstore isn't a licensed pharmacy. In the U.S. and Canada, pharmacies are licensed by individual state or provincial governments.
- The online drugstore doesn't have a licensed pharmacist available to answer your questions.
- The website isn't "secure." This means that any information you type in—your address, your credit card number—could be read and used by anyone who comes across it. Secure websites use special tools to "encrypt" your information. They turn it into a code that other people can't read. You can tell that a website is secure if the URL (the Web address) begins with "https" rather than just "http."
Why be careful when buying medicines online?
Medicines that you buy online from sources that are not regulated can be either too strong or too weak. So you could end up buying pills that hurt you rather than help you.
Medicines sold online and by places that do not have a physical address can be fake.
Criminals who sell medicines online have one goal: to make money. So they often focus on medicines that are in demand and not available in a lower-cost generic form.
Many fake medicines are expertly packaged. They look like the real thing, but they may have been made under very dirty conditions. And they may contain ingredients like chalk, sugar, and flour instead of the medicine you need. In the worst cases, a fake pill may contain drugs or chemicals that could harm you.
Current as of: February 28, 2023
Author: Healthwise Staff
Clinical Review Board: All Healthwise education is reviewed by a team that includes physicians, nurses, advanced practitioners, registered dieticians, and other healthcare professionals.