How to Buy Prescription Drugs Online

There are hundreds of online pharmacies on the Internet. Many of them operate outside the law. Follow these five simple rules and you can find an Internet drugstore that is both safe and legal.


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    The pharmacy must require a prescription. A prescription is the most basic link in the medical chain of responsibility from doctor to patient to pharmacy.
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    The pharmacy must ask for a medical and prescription history. Without this information, the online pharmacy has no way of checking for drug interactions or inappropriate prescribing.
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    The pharmacy should not advertise or offer to sell any narcotics, controlled, or targeted substances. It is illegal for any Internet pharmacy to sell or ship these products.
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    The pharmacy should offer a full range of prescription pharmaceuticals (apart from the narcotics mentioned above). Many online pharmacies offer only the best sellers or "lifestyle" medications such as Viagra. These pharmacies are more interested in your wallet than your health.
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    Finally, choose a fully licensed Internet pharmacy located in Canada, the U.S., Western Europe, Asia, Australia or New Zealand. Most licensed pharmacies will indicated their licensing number on their website, or you can ask them for it, and verify it with the licensing organization. For instance, pharmacies in the UK are licensed by the Royal Pharmaceutical Society, and in India, they are licensed by the Indian Pharmaceutical Association.


  • Price is important but choose your pharmacy then compare costs.
  • If you are a U.S. citizen and eligible for it, sign up for the Medicare Plan D program. Your first $2250 worth of prescription costs will be covered (after deducting premiums and co-pays). If you have reached the "doughnut hole" where your prescriptions aren't covered by Plan D, consider buying from an online pharmacy.
  • When comparing costs at a foreign pharmacy, remember to consider the current exchange rate, shipping and handling charges, and any other fees that might apply.
  • Check your order as soon as you receive it to ensure everything is in order and the medications are in good condition. If there is a problem, contact the online pharmacy immediately.
  • Drug prices can vary widely at pharmacies within the same country or city. Compare prices carefully.
  • If you have questions about the medications you are ordering, the pharmacist at your Internet Pharmacy should be able to answer them for you. If he or she cannot answer them to your satisfaction, you may want to choose another pharmacy.
  • In different countries, medications may have different names and appearances. For instance, Lipitor is the name for a branded cholesterol drug in the US and other countries, and its generic equivalent can be found under various names including "Aztor" and "Atorlip."
  • To save the most money, order generic drugs, not branded. Generic drugs have the exact same effective ingredient as branded drugs, but they are usually much cheaper because the customer is not paying for advertising and other costs associated with a brand name, like Lipitor. Also, just because a pharmacy in your country does not carry a generic doesn't mean that a generic isn't made. Different countries have different patent laws that allow generics to be marketed after certain waiting periods. Generics come to market slowly in the U.S., and much faster in countries such as India, the UK and Israel.
  • Some patients that take tablets find that "pill-splitting" or cutting a larger tablet in two, can be an effective way to lower drug costs. They do this by ordering a tablet twice the necessary size and splitting it. To be safe, get your doctor's okay before doing this, and use a pill splitter than can be purchased at pharmacies, don't break it by hand.
  • Countries with the lowest drug prices include India, Israel and Thailand. Prices in the UK, Western Europe and Canada tend to be slightly higher. And, the US, the only country that does not control drug prices, has the highest drug prices in the world.


  • Never pay a membership fee for the privilege of buying drugs from an online pharmacy. That is a rip-off.
  • In the U.S., the Food and Drug Administration considers prescription medications purchased from foreign pharmacies to be illegal in most cases. However, U.S. Customs will not seize medications intended for personal use as long as there is a 90 days or less supply.
  • Regulations state that drugs that have been dispensed cannot be returned to the pharmacy. This applies to both local pharmacies and Internet.

Things You'll Need

  • A computer with Internet access
  • Names of your medications with their doses
  • Valid prescriptions for your drugs
  • Major credit card such as Visa, MasterCard
  • Address for receiving your order by mail or courier
  • Pen and paper for jotting down prices and info for your records
  • Calculator to help compare costs between pharmacies

Article Info

Categories: Taking Pills and Medicine