- Use a site that bypasses prescriptions. Online pharmacies that dispense medication without a valid prescription are violating U.S. law. Don't be lured in by sites that give you a prescription if you complete an online questionnaire. Only your doctor can safely prescribe medication for you.
- Order medication that's not approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). It's illegal to import unapproved drugs into the United States. Taking an inappropriate or unsafe drug can have life-threatening consequences.
- Overlook the address and phone number. Steer clear of sites that don't provide a street address and phone number or that list only foreign contact information. Use only U.S. pharmacies. International pharmacies may sell drugs that do not have FDA approval or that are illegal in the United States.
Whether you fill your prescription at a local pharmacy or online, make sure you get just what the doctor ordered by checking the following:
- Is your name printed correctly on the medication label?
- Is the name of the medication correct?
- Does the dosage match the prescription?
- Is the packaging intact?
- Is the expiration date clearly listed?
If you have any questions or concerns, check with your doctor or pharmacist before taking the medication. A simple phone call may help you avoid a potentially serious or costly mistake.
July 17, 2014
See more In-depth
- Buying prescription medicine online: A consumer safety guide. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. http://www.fda.gov/Drugs/ResourcesForYou/ucm080588.htm. Accessed May 2, 2014.
- Be safe Rx: Know your online pharmacy. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. http://www.fda.gov/Drugs/ResourcesForYou/Consumers/BuyingUsingMedicineSafely/BuyingMedicinesOvertheInternet/BeSafeRxKnowYourOnlinePharmacy/default.htm. Accessed May 2, 2014.
- VIPPS. National Association of Boards of Pharmacy. http://www.nabp.net/programs/accreditation/vipps/. Accessed May 2, 2014.
- Buss Preszler LK (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. May 21, 2014.
- Counterfeit drugs. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. http://www.cdc.gov/Features/CounterfeitDrugs/. Accessed May 2, 2014.
- Counterfeit drugs questions and answers. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. http://www.fda.gov/Drugs/DrugSafety/ucm169898.htm. Accessed May 2, 2014.