Things not to do:

  • Don't 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.
  • Don't 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.
  • Don't 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.
  • Don't keep complaints quiet. If your order doesn't arrive, you find unauthorized charges on your credit card, or you have another problem with an online pharmacy, report it to the FDA. Speaking up can help promote a safer marketplace for everyone.

Take control

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.

Jul. 15, 2011 See more In-depth