The internet has increased accessibility to medications and health services for patients (and enabled the existence of Apostrophe!), but it’s important to be cautious online. found in an assessment of more than a thousand internet drug outlets, 97% were operating outside of state and federal laws, or established patient safety and pharmacy practice standards. Beware of online pharmacies that may offer prescription drugs and treatments at deeply discounted prices. They will feel light on your wallet, but you may end up paying the cost in other ways. Luckily, there are things you can look for to spot those suspicious pharmacies!
- The pharmacy allows you to purchase a prescription treatment without a valid prescription from your doctor. We understand the reason you’re probably searching online is to avoid the doctor in the first place, whether that’s due to lack of access or just inconvenience, but prescription medications require prescriptions for a reason. They may interact with another drug you are taking, or you may have another condition that makes it dangerous to take that medicine. Doctors and licensed pharmacists know to watch out for these complications in order to keep you safe and healthy.
- The pharmacy does not have a U.S. state-licensed pharmacist available to answer your questions. Licensed pharmacists are experts in the drugs they dispense – they know how to spot potentially dangerous drug interactions, how to properly take or apply the medication, what side effects to watch out for, and how to address any other concerns you may have. Any pharmacy without a U.S. state-licensed pharmacist on hand to address your concerns is not a respectable pharmacy.
- The prices seem too good to be true. As they say, there’s no such thing as a free lunch. If something seems too good to be true, it probably is. what an unregulated pharmacy is putting into the treatments they are providing to patients, who are then putting those treatments in and on their bodies.
- The pharmacy sends spam or unsolicited email offering cheap medicine. Reputable pharmacies will not send you spam trying to directly sell you medications. Licensed pharmacies only take prescriptions from doctors for the safety reasons listed above.
- The pharmacy is located outside of the U.S. or ships worldwide. Not only is it to import prescription drugs or products into the U.S. for personal use, it is also unclear what you are really getting in that package because it has not gone through the rigorous safety screenings and regulations that the U.S. has in place.
Despite how difficult or inconvenient it may be to get to a doctor, it is always better to go through official channels than to order medications online from shady retailers. At Apostrophe, we aim to make your treatments as accessible and affordable as possible, all while under the care of a U.S. licensed dermatologist and pharmacy who are available to answer any questions you may have. The next time you are tempted by the offer of a cheap drug online, remember the U.S.’s regulations are in place to keep you safe!
If you suspect a website may be illegally selling drugs or medical products, you can report them to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration here.