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How to Safely Buy Medicine Online: The Complete Guide

Did you know that almost half of the population in the United States used a prescription drug during the last 30 days? That number drastically rises to 85% when narrowing down demographics to those 60 or older.

Where you buy medication is becoming a more frequent question. Rising pharmaceutical costs – especially in America – are forcing people to look towards other avenues. Critical medication at an affordable price is hard to come by these days.

Yet, there are risks with turning to the online world to buy medicine, and it is important to be aware of scams and illegal sites.

Drugs Worldwide

Unaffordable prescription costs are starting to become a large problem in the United States. Prescription medicine is skyrocketing in costs, leaving many consumers without the means to afford it.

Additionally, children contribute to 18% of the marketplace for prescription medication. Globally, there are detriments in legal and illegal drug use. An example is the increased use of cocaine and opium between 2016-2017.

Around 275 million people worldwide have used drugs at least once during the year.

Prescription drug use has its positive benefits if used correctly. In the world, the opium crisis and rising abuse of drugs have created their own issues. A fake online pharmacy has become a tool for people to scam others out of money and quality medication.

Why are people turning to online pharmacies? Years ago, having fake pharmacies wouldn’t be an issue. Most people still go through local avenues to fill their prescription orders.

However, the stronghold pharmacies have on the costs of drugs, and a global trend towards online shopping has led to the creation of online pharmacies.

What Is an Online Pharmacy?

Just like the name suggests, prescription medicine has broken the internet barrier. An online pharmacy functions in a similar mechanism as your local, in-person company. A trusted pharmacy website will require you to send in a doctor’s prescription through fax, email, or online.

Some companies can contact your pharmacy or doctor’s office directly to have them send your prescription order directly.

After reviewing and processing your payment, your medication will be in the system. Finally, the prescription is mailed directly to you – that means no hassle of having to drive down to your local pharmacist to pick it up.

Additionally, you can receive reminders when you are due for a refill. Does this sound easy enough?

Just like using Amazon or other online retailers, you simply search for the medication on a search engine bar through the pharmacy website. You will likely have the option to select either the brand-name or generic medicine and dosage.

Remember, you are only allowed to buy the dosage on your prescription. These websites do not give free rein to adjust critical details about your prescription – this is why a reliable and trusted pharmacy team is critical to a successful online pharmacy.

Where Does the Medication Ship From?

If you are purchasing from the United States, this might be the first time you have heard of an online option. It is important to be aware that purchasing medication through an online retailer does not allow you to use your insurance.

You might even be more shocked to see where the medications ship from. Let’s take Lexapro as an example. This is a common prescription medication used to treat depression. In the United States, the name brand can cost almost $1,300 for a 90 tablet supply without insurance.

Switching to the generic name – Escitalopram – provides a bit of a reprieve at approximately $177.

However, when putting in the cost to an online pharmacy, it searches for this same prescription medication outside of the United States. An 84 tablet prescription of Escitalopram from the United Kingdom costs $51.

Lexapro is not the only medication to show drastic cost differences between countries. Cancer medications and others used to treat rare illnesses are often some of the most expensive medications.

Why Is Medication So Expensive?

In the United States, many pharmaceutical companies hold patents on their drugs for up to 20 years. Looking at a recent example, Zokinvy is used to treat a rare disorder called Hutchinson-Gilford Progeria Syndrome (HGPS).

HGPS is a debilitating disorder that causes a person to age quickly, and in some cases can cause death before the age of 15 years old.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration just recently approved Zokinvy for the treatment of HGPS. Beforehand, conservative treatments and other remedies were mostly for comfort care.

How much does this life-saving medication cost? In the United States, it can cost over $86,000 annually. Right now, Zokinvy is the only medication available to treat this disorder.

Aptiom – used to treat epilepsy disorder – costs well over $1,000 in the United States. When looking at purchasing from the United Kingdom or Canada, it can cut costs almost in half

Canada and other countries have fewer pharmaceutical industries competing, which allows the government to turn down costly medications in favor of more affordable options for consumers. This drives the cost down in countries outside of the United States where “Big Pharma” industries lack federal regulation.

“Big Pharma” Issues

You can break down the “Big Pharma” problems further by understanding the regulations, or lack thereof. Some people spend close to half a million dollars when purchasing medicine.

Most companies, like Johnson & Johnson, claim that the elevated costs are to fund further research projects for future drugs. This claim holds true, as the cost of medication in the United States contributes to over 16% of its health care expenditures.

What doesn’t line up is the fact that other countries are spending 56% of what Americans are. Yikes.

This problem is not just being ignored, but it has been hard for Congress to reach a consensus on how to fix this growing issue. The plausibility of research costing enough to warrant thousands of dollars per person in drug prices is difficult to fathom.

Yet, 90% of drugs are suspected to fail.

What many companies don’t tell you is this often occurs during the early stages. This means the costs are still relatively low.

What about the argument that pharmaceutical companies need money for research? Well, it turns out Amazon is the largest researcher company in America.

Circular problems and an inability to federally regulate these companies are a big portion of why online pharmacies now exist. The American population is a large shareholder when looking to purchase medicine in general.

Canadian Pharmacies

With a better idea of how the United States functions, what sets Canada apart?

In 2019, Canada made drastic measures to reduce rising medication costs. It slashed prices of expensive drugs – no doubt upsetting many CEOs in the long run.

The Patented Medicine Prices Review Board (PMPRB) reviews and compares drugs from companies and regulates the maximum price. You can imagine that the United States was dropped from their lists due to their high prices. Surprisingly, Switzerland was also added to the mix of countries dropped for high costs.

It also reduces the timeline of patents for these companies. But Canada is a small fish in a big pond, and no drastic measure ever goes smoothly.

Canada lost many drug manufacturers when it rolled out its plan to decrease medication costs for its citizens. While the notion was to boost Canada’s cost-friendly health care system, it could not foresee some of the detrimental effects.

Nowadays, Canada lags far behind the United States for domestic manufacturing of medication. This proved to be a crisis when the COVID-19 pandemic slashed its way across the world. While the United States was one of the first to start rolling out vaccines, Canada always seemed to be lagging.

Contracts with European and Asia countries to import vaccines were proving to be a difficult task. With short supplies, Canada was forced to remain without enough COVID-19 vaccines for months, while other countries were starting to fully vaccinate their citizens.

This issue contributed partly to the decision to have the border remain closed between the United States and Canada. It also shed a light on a larger problem.

Canada is not the only nation that needs to push back against powerful pharmaceutical industries.

Word of Caution

As the internet has taken off, so has the online pharmacy world. Seventy-two percent of Americans searched health questions during a year span. While the exact amount of online pharmacies available is largely unknown, it is projected that 10% of counterfeit medicine is distributed worldwide.

This number drastically decreases to closer to 1% when looking at developed countries. Counterfeit medicine occurs when a lack of regulation for pharmacists or pharmacies is not in place in the country that it is located.

Here are a few words of caution when looking to buy medicine online.

First, use your common sense – if a drug seems way too cheap compared to other prices then it is likely too good to be true.

Also, make sure it is licensed in North America. Canada reports that 96% of global online pharmacies are likely scams. If you are looking into Canadian pharmacies, make sure you check their credentials and ensure they are asking for a valid prescription rather than a questionnaire.

You can also contact the province that the Canadian pharmacy is reported to be registered at. When purchasing medicine, it is vital to take the steps necessary to ensure you are receiving the correct product.

Pet Medication

Did you know that some online sites let you purchase pet medication? If you thought your visit to urgent care was expensive, have you been to a veterinarian recently? Many people don’t bother to purchase anything additional for their pets that helps cover the costs of emergencies.

Does your dog need surgery?

That can break the bank – especially if you don’t have much to begin with. Additionally, if your pet needs medication for a variety of ailments, from arthritis to insulin, it can get pricey.

Luckily, an online pharmacy can have you and your pet covered. The steps for ordering a prescription for your pet are similar to the process you would take for yourself.

Simply upload or fax your pet’s prescription to the pharmacy and select the desired medication. Once you have approval from the pharmacist and payment in place, your medication will be shipped right to your door.

What if You Have Questions?

Sometimes, you are unfamiliar with the medication you are taking, or have questions on how to take it. A reliable retailer will have a description of the medication, how to take it, and things to avoid.

If you continue to have questions, there should be a direct customer service line where you can chat with educated pharmacy staff members to address all your questions.

Keep in mind, you can always call up your local pharmacist if you have concerns about your medication. Buying medication online does not discount the need to continue to keep your local doctor or pharmacist in the loop.

You can also go to the FAQ page on the company’s website to see if your concern or question is already answered. Often, this is a great resource to get a better idea of how the company functions, shipping times, and payment.

If the company is vague on how they receive, ship, and process medication, then that is another red flag. Make sure the company is explicit about where they get their medication from. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

Buy Medicine Online

You have heard all the reasons how an online pharmacy can save you hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars when you buy medicine. More importantly, you can see there are important steps to follow to make sure you are not receiving counterfeit medication.

North American pharmacies are becoming a trustworthy brand name worldwide. Better yet, look at local online Canadian pharmacies with qualified pharmacists, so that you can rest easy knowing you are in good hands.

Take the next step and check out a reliable and online Canadian pharmacy for all your prescription needs. Your wallet and health will thank you.

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