How to safely buy drugs online

Paula Wolfson,

WASHINGTON – There are good deals to be had online on everything from clothes, to books, to electronics. But when it comes to prescription drugs, it is definitely a case of buyer beware.

Lisa Gill, prescription drugs editor for Consumer Reports, says “the fraud is absolutely rampant.”

She says you can enter a drug name online and “get hit with thousands and thousands of entries from pharmacies all around the world.”

The National Association of Boards of Pharmacy estimates that at least 80 percent of online pharmacies are completely illegitimate.

“They are not in Canada the way they say they are,” says Gill. “They are not, sometimes, even in the United States the way they pretend to be.”

She says to look for sites linked to bricks and mortar stores you know and trust. Gill says there are a few online only sites that have good prices and are legitimately owned. She says the key to finding them is to look for what’s called a VIPPS symbol on their home page.

It’s a seal of approval from Verified Internet Pharmacy Practice Sites. It means the site has state licenses, and has been formally accredited.

Another option for online ordering is to check first with an insurer. Many have mail order programs through one of the big prescription service providers. Gill says “you sometimes can get a good deal by doing that.”

But she says no matter where you fill your prescriptions, it helps to have a personal connection with a local pharmacist who has a computerized history of all the drugs prescribed for individual patients, can offer recommendations for generics and can warn of possible interactions with over-the-counter medications.

Watch this video about the issue from Consumer Reports:

Follow WTOP on Twitter.

(Copyright 2012 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)

Advertiser Content