Danger in Online Pharmacies
Now that online shopping is so widespread that people are buying more stuff on the Internet than in brick-and-mortar stores, it’s absolutely no surprise that ordering medicines on the Web has become a thing too. And it’s not that online pharmaceutical market is only developing – as of early 2015, 75% of US citizens either had experience in ordering their pills online or were planning to try it in the nearest future.
Though obviously more convenient than traditional ways of shopping for pills, buying them online is considered to be somewhat riskier. But what are the possible dangers of buying medicines on the Internet? Are there only financial risks (e.g. paying for your order and not getting it) or your health is at stake as well? Is shopping for meds online really as dangerous as some claim it is? Are there any ways to avoid possible risks? Here in this article we will try to get these questions answered. Read on to find the answers!
The possible dangers of purchasing medicines on the Internet
Risk #1: Paying for your order but not getting anything in return
Many sources writing about the dangers of online shopping agree that the risks of never receiving your order are fairly high. It’s not a problem typical of pharmaceutical online retail only – ‘rogue shops’ that never send some of the orders to customers exist in every niche of consumer market. And, in fact, it’s not always the shop’s fault that some of the clients never get to see the goods they purchase on the Web. An order may get lost during many different stages of the delivery process – it might never leave the warehouse or get snatched away by the warehouse workers, it might get lost due to tracking issues or damaged so bad the delivery people prefer to ‘lose’ it rather than bother returning it to the original sender. Besides, there’s also a potential risk typical of pharmaceutical market only: if you are ordering prescription meds online and your order is so big that it may be considered to have high retail potential (the people at the customs might suspect it’s not intended for personal use but for further sale to others), it might never even make it across the border.
Risk #2: Receiving duds that don’t work instead of your meds
Now that’s also a risk, the existence of which is next to impossible to deny. There have been a few reported cases when customers of online pharmacies received plain sugar pills instead of real ones. Okay, we all know about the placebo effect but… That’s definitely not one of those cases when anyone would be willing to try it themselves. Though it would have been interesting from the scientific point of view, the money that you can lose in a situation like this makes it all nothing but another form of flagrant pharmaceutical fraud.
Thus, if the medication you got online is failing to work the way it was supposed to, don’t think that it could be due to the fact that you are growing used to it or anything. Well, it’s also possible but the chances that your supplier has sent you low-strength or even totally fake pills are probably higher.
Risk #3: Receiving dangerous counterfeit pills in your order
While this is the least likely of all risks associated with shopping for meds online, it’s also the one that scares people the most. And it’s absolutely no surprise – losing your money sucks but putting your health at risk along with your finances is something that brings the dangers up to a whole new level.
So, are dangerous counterfeit meds a thing or just a myth spread by the manufacturers of brand-name pills waging an information war against generics sold online? Even though everyone tends to get a little overdramatic about this one, we still have to agree that, unfortunately, dangerous fake pills do exist. Even the official tests run by the FDA managed to identify a couple of manufacturers that were producing and selling downright dangerous drugs. These were just a couple out of hundreds and hundreds of brands, of course – but it doesn’t make the danger any less realistic.
A good example of dangerous fake meds would probably be a generic version of Xenical. While the original version of this medicine used to help people lose extra weight is supposed to contain orlistat, one of the generics turned out to be using sibutramine – an equally effective though considerably more dangerous substance – instead.
How to buy medicines online safely
Okay, so what was that scary talk all about? Does it all mean that buying meds online is so dangerous that nobody should do it? Wrong! There are millions of people buying their meds online these days and this number is only growing. Meds sold online are cheaper, in spite of not being inferior to their brand-name alternatives that dominate land-based drugstores. Buying meds online is more convenient as it requires less time and helps your protect your privacy. The benefits are obvious and refusing to reap them because of the risks would be painful. Fortunately, there is no need to stop buying meds online. All you have to do is follow a bunch of very simple rules that we will gladly lay out here for you. Read on – in this part of the article we will teach you how to buy medicines online as safely as it’s only possible.
In fact, there are very few rules that you need to remember when shopping for your pills online. They are very simple too, so memorizing them shouldn’t be a problem for absolutely anyone. First of all, it’s important to do a background check for the pharmacy of your choice prior to buying. That doesn’t mean you will have to spend days researching – a few minutes will be perfectly sufficient. Read the reviews from real customers who have purchased from this online drugstore, check out at least one online pharmacy directory to see how this drugstore rates there, search for its name on Google or Yahoo and leaf through the first couple of pages of search results to make sure there are no negative reviews/warnings listed there… This should be it: if the feedback and the ratings are okay, then the pharmacy of your choice is okay too.
Okay, now that you have made sure that the pharmacy you are planning to buy from sells nothing but quality meds, move on and make sure you don’t risk your money when buying from it. Always look for the information about the billing engine used by the site – it should be safe and encrypted, preferably operated by one of leading worldwide providers, such as Visa, MasterCard, AmEx or at least PayPal or CCBill. This way you will make sure that your billing information remains well-protected and will not be shared with any third parties. Additionally, all transactions carried out with the help of the abovementioned billing engines are trackable, which means that you will at least be able to sue the pharmacy if you never get your order from them or get wrong pills.
And the last, though definitely not the least… There is actually a super-simple way to tell a bad online pharmacy from one that is probably reliable enough. See, the former never provide any contact information on their websites – there is no street address, no phone number, no name of the pharmacist, nothing. If however, this information is present and you can use it to contact the pharmacy, it shows that it is most likely a good one.
Reliable sources of information about online pharmacies
There are a few categories of websites that never fail to give accurate information about the reliability of certain online pharmacies. In the following section of this article we will provide a quick overview of those.
Online pharmacy directories
Online pharmacy directories are awesome in a number of different ways. First of all, if you want to compare the offers from a number of different online drugstores without having to check the background of each of them, a pharmacy directory is exactly what you need. Judge yourself: all of the sites listed there have been tested and verified by the directory’s team (usually consisting of experts who know the online pharmaceutical market inside out), so you don’t even have to waste time looking for customer reviews and stuff like that. Just choose the pharmacy that has the best prices and delivery options and buy from it.
Moreover, online pharmacy directories often come complete with quality/reliability ratings and different kinds of lists that Internet-based drugstores are split into. The directory on our site, for instance, is divided into white, grey and black lists. The drugstores from the white list are 100% safe to buy from as they only sell meds by reliable manufacturers and haven’t cheated their customers even once. On the contrary, the sites from the black list should be avoided at all times. The ones on the grey list are relatively safe to shop at but, due to negative reviews, should better be avoided too unless they are the only option you have available.
Forums and message boards
Being the places where real people share their opinions about all kinds of goods and services including pharmaceuticals and online drugstores, forums and message boards are good sources of information too. Of course, some say that fake reviews also do exist and we won’t try to deny it but… Come on, you can tell those from real people’s feedback without any effort at all. Moreover, fake reviews always get downvoted by other forum members and sometimes even removed by the forum moderation, so… You won’t be running into too many of those, we bet – and even if there are some, they will be so easy to distinguish from real feedback that you will certainly manage it.
VIPPS and LegitScript
Verified Internet Pharmacy Practice Sites (by National Association of Boards of Pharmacy) and LegitScript are two 100% reliable sources of information about online pharmacies. We can’t say these lists are our favorite because they only include large network pharmacies and often omit smaller ones, especially if they offer generics, but… If the pharmacy of your choice is on the VIPPS or LegitScript lists, then it’s absolutely, undeniably a good one.
So, as you can see, buying meds online is not that dangerous – provided you are doing it right, of course. Now don’t hesitate to move on and take a closer look at our online pharmacy directory – you can be sure that the drugstores from our white list are offering whatever meds you are looking for and that they are of unbeatably high quality. Shop safe and be safe! Good luck!