Many of the websites that market medication are legitimate businesses that truly offer the convenience, privacy and safeguards of traditional medical prescription procedures. For the most part, consumers can use these services with the same level of trust they have in their local pharmacist. But consumers should be wary of those who use the Internet as an outlet for illegal practices.
Buying medication online safely
You can safely buy medication for everyday ailments online if you use the websites recommended by the pharmacists’ associations. You can also buy medication from your health insurance company’s website.
Do not trust an online pharmacy if the site does not ask for a prescription. Also, avoid vendors that are not licensed pharmacies. If you come across a website that is not ‘secure’, this means that any information you enter (your address, credit card number) can be read and used by anyone who comes across it. You can be sure that the site is secure if the URL (web address) starts with “https” instead of just “http”.
Medication sales websites: the dangers
Some sites are located outside the country, but ship their products worldwide. These pharmacies are risky because the medicines they ship may have too much or too little of the active ingredient needed to treat your condition. The active ingredient is what makes the medicine effective for the condition it is intended to treat. In addition, these products may not have been stored properly, such as in a warehouse without the appropriate temperature settings.
Fake medication: a risk that cannot be ruled out
The World Health Organisation (WHO) has found that more than half of the pharmaceutical products sold online and by places that do not display a physical address are fake. Criminals who sell these products online have only one goal: to make money. They therefore often focus on drugs that are in demand and not available in a cheaper generic form. Many fake products are masterfully packaged. They may contain useless ingredients, instead of the substances you need. In the worst case, a fake pill will contain substances or chemicals that could harm you.