Buying online is great – you don’t have to leave your home, don’t have to stay in line waiting to pay for the products, and at least you don’t put yourself at risk of getting infected with the coronavirus. But, we all know how important is to always have our medicines with us, especially when we are treating some specific condition or a chronic disease. Even when we are diagnosed with COVID-19, and don’t have to stay at the hospital, we still need our therapy. And that’s the moment when the pharmacies decided to move one step further and offer the patients to order online their prescription medicines.
These pharmacies are a great way to get the treatment you need without having to physically go into a location and collect them. They’re particularly useful for medication of perhaps a more sensitive nature: sexual health issues, hair loss or weight loss etc, where you might not be comfortable opening up to a stranger about what you’re going through. As good as online pharmacies are, it’s vital to make sure where you’re buying your medication is a registered, fully regulated pharmacy: just because it’s online, it doesn’t mean you should lower your standards of who’s dealing with your prescriptions. There are unfortunately some unregulated pharmacies online, so t’s important to check their credentials as well as scoping out previous customer reviews to confirm if they have a history of good customer servicing and correct procedures.
Prescription medicines can sometimes be expensive, and the patient often requires them promptly, so there’s a temptation to opt for the cheapest option you can find but trustworthiness should be one of the top factors to consider. So, in order to avoid unpleasant situations, you should check if the online pharmacy is legal and legit. In the UK, a good example of a trustworthy, fully regulated pharmacy is Pharmica, and if you come from another country, check the local register of legal pharmacies around you.
Here are a few tips on how to confirm the legitimacy of online pharmacies:
1. Understanding prescriptions
There are 3 different categories of legal medication that you can buy: General Sales List (GSL), Pharmacy Medicines (P-meds) and Prescription only medication. General sales list medication is over-the-counter medication you might see on the shelves in pharmacies but also in your local supermarket, where there are little regulations on who can sell these and the quantity you can purchase. P-meds are medications that only registered pharmacies are allowed to sell, which are not typically on the shop floor and that you may have to answer some preliminary questions before buying. Prescription medication is medication that you will need to go through a qualification process with a registered pharmacist or doctor, who will establish the right course of action for you, and write you a prescription if needed. These can only be written by approved pharmacists from verified and regulated pharmacies, and the prescription qualification process is now available in an online questionnaire format. Beware of any pharmacies that offer medicine that should only be available with a prescription, without a verification process or without a regulatory body’s approval.
2. Do they have a license to sell drugs
It’s very easy – the legit companies will always provide their license, as required by the local laws. Even when they have an online store, it will be transparently listed, because the verified companies have nothing to hide. Even when you are buying supplements, you have to check the license, to make sure you are using an appropriate product that meets the standards. Another tip, while we are here, is to trust only the brands and companies you know and recognize, but also double-check them, because scammers can use similar branding, to cause confusion among the users.
3. Look for relevant reviews
If they offer their product through social media, you can easily check who of your friends follow it. If they don’t have reviews available, probably they are hiding something, and they are deleting the bad comments. Also, all 5-star reviews are a sign that you must be suspicious about it. The best way to be sure you won’t fall for some type of scam is to use only recognizable brands, that are already existing on the market. Website like trust pilot, google reviews, and feefo offer ratings on a company’s service based on customer reviews, and are a good way to check up on a company if you’re not sure about their legitimacy.
4. They offer an online test to diagnose
Whilst at one stage you would have had to go into a physical pharmacy or doctors office to be given a diagnosis and a prescription, pharmacies now can do this process through questionnaire forms online, and this is completely safe and legal. However, be cautious of pharmacies that either don’t require a form to be filled out, or have a sub-standard vetting process, as chances are they are operating under the legal radar and should be conducting more stringent patient safety processes.
5. Did they announce their online option?
In a time of a pandemic, when buying from home is highly recommended, all the companies who didn’t provide this service previously, are now proud of it, and they will use every chance to remind the customers and clients they can order online too. Use only their official websites and profiles to inform yourself about it. It’s easy to recognize them, and as an experienced Internet user, fake ones can easily catch your eye, and you will know if something is wrong with that particular offer.
6. Some people are new to this, so take your time to explain them
Your parents and other relatives are not that experienced in using the Internet for online shopping, and it’s easier for them to fall for scams. We can say that they are the target of those people, and you have to explain to them how to protect themselves. A lot of adult people are taking the Internet for granted and they believe everything that is listed there. Take some hours of your time and teach your parents how to be safe online, but at the same time, don’t scare them, because there are legit online pharmacies too. They only have to learn how to make difference between them, and you are the one who can help them with that.
As a conclusion to all of this, we can say that even experienced people can fall from scams, but as time goes by, we learn how to protect ourselves online. Medicines are not a joke, and we must be even more careful with buying them on the Internet, following the advice we listed above in this article.