What Are Online Pharmacies?
In today’s digital age, it seems that nearly every service is turning to the digital world to keep up with customers looking for an easier, more streamlined or less expensive product or process. As we move into a world where everything is available online, all of the time, it sets new expectations for industries who have been strictly doing business brick-and-mortar style since their inception.
One of those industries is the pharmacy. Nearly everyone has had to purchase something from a pharmacy at some point in their lives, and regular patrons of the pharmacy know all too well how expensive and time consuming it can be to purchase prescription medications.
Up until recently, there has been no other way to get these important medicines, leaving patients to their own devices when they can’t afford to purchase a prescription or can’t physically go pick one up. With the development of the Internet and e-commerce, however, now anyone with access to a computer and a web browser can get their prescriptions through Internet pharmacies.
Internet Pharmacy? What’s That?
An Internet pharmacy can also be referred to as an online pharmacy or a mail-order pharmacy. It functions very similarly to an in-person pharmacy with only a few exceptions. A prescription order is placed, a pharmacist fills the order and instead of the patient coming to pick it up, the medication is shipped directly to the patient’s doorstep. Many patients turn to an online pharmacy for convenience and price cuts.
Are Internet Pharmacies Legal?
Internet pharmacies are legal, but there are certain rules and regulations that they must follow in order to maintain that legal status. These rules are different for every country. For example, in the United Kingdom, you must have a prescription to legally purchase prescription-only drugs online. If an online pharmacy were to violate this law or any of the others that they are required to follow, they could face serious consequences.
Are Internet Pharmacies Safe?
Many online pharmacies exist solely as a way to benefit patients with no malicious intent. There are several accredited online pharmacies around the world that practice safe, professional medical services and follow the law. As a rule of thumb, it’s a good idea to research an online pharmacy before ordering medication through it to make sure you are choosing an online pharmacy that will serve you with best practices.
Unfortunately, there are a few online pharmacies that operate “under the radar” – meaning they break laws and haven’t yet faced consequences for their actions. Buying from illegitimate online pharmacies can be dangerous. They may attempt to sell you expired, fake or unregulated drugs that can cause serious harm to your health. Remember – buying medication online is just as serious as buying it in person, and it should still be treated as a professional strength product, not a regular, over-the-counter one.
It is strongly discouraged for anyone to attempt to purchase drugs from online pharmacies without first researching the pharmacy. A good Internet pharmacy will be registered and licensed with the country it operates in. Almost all reputable pharmacies are also linked to a brick and mortar store. In the United Kingdom, accredited online pharmacies will display a green cross logo to show their legitimacy.
What’s the Benefit of an Internet Pharmacy?
Once you’ve found the right online pharmacy for you, it can make a world of difference in the way you purchase both prescription and non-prescription medication. With traditional pharmacies, prescriptions often must be dropped off in person, leaving the patient to wait around until it is filled. There are long lines, strange and inconvenient hours of operation and at least a few trips back and forth between the pharmacy and home before a prescription is filled. On top of the inconvenience of that entire process, many countries require patients to pay astronomical prices for these prescriptions, leaving them broke before they even take their first pill.
Internet pharmacies are helping to combat all the above issues. In the United Kingdom, many online pharmacies have teamed up with online doctors, streamlining the entire process of getting a diagnosis and prescription. This means that you can have an online consultation with a licensed professional, receive a prescription for treatment and have it posted to an online pharmacy – all from the comfort of your own computer.
Your in-person doctor can also post an electronic prescription to the online pharmacy. Once that prescription is received, the online pharmacy begins to fill it. Once the order is ready, it is shipped directly to your doorstep, often by a courier and with special insulated packaging to ensure that the medication is kept at the proper temperature.
To some, this may seem like a small convenience, but for those with chronic illnesses or disabilities, or for those who can’t afford the prices of their medication from their neighbourhood pharmacy, this innovation has become a very powerful and helpful tool. By offering the same convenience that other online retailers do to their consumers, many more patients are able to get the treatment they need while retaining their independence.
Internet pharmacies are just one of the results of our world becoming more streamlined for all those who live in it. As the world moves into the digital age, we can only expect to see more and more of these online pharmacies. With proper regulation and smart consumerism, they can be very powerful tools for those who might not otherwise be able to do business at a brick and mortar pharmacy.
If you’re interested in purchasing your medication through an online pharmacy, just remember to be smart and to be safe. Legal and legitimate Internet pharmacies will be licensed and registered within their country of operation and regulated online pharmacies in the United Kingdom will display the green Internet pharmacy cross logo on their site.
Do not attempt to purchase prescription drugs without a prescription. By following these simple tips, and by finding pharmacies that are dedicated to best practices, you too can benefit from the age of the Internet pharmacy.