With the advent of online shopping, you can get practically anything nowadays. From sofas to jewelry, video game consoles to groceries, from fabrics to clothing, to cars and rented helicopters. But, on the other side of the spectrum, the Internet is also a haven for anonymous sellers of narcotics and firearms.
Somewhere between sofas and AK-47s, you have a multitude of online pharmacies. Due to the possible dubious nature of selling medicine online and sourcing it, there are many, many illegal pharmacies out there looking to rip you off with outdated or counterfeit drugs – having a strict guideline in mind before buying medicine online is very important.
Buying medicine online isn’t illegal, and it doesn’t have to be dangerous – as long as you know what you’re doing. Just follow these basic tips, and you will be perfectly happy with your purchase – and you will probably even save money!
Be Aware of Unethical Pharmacies
The first thing to do is understand that illegal pharmacies exist, and are easily stumbled-upon. These pharmacies tend to be run by underground criminals, as a way to make an extra buck – but they’re rather quickly identified if you know what you’re looking for. A true online pharmacy will be certified and officially recognized as a retailer of medicine – if you can’t find a sign of legal or medical verification on a pharmacy’s website, stay away.
Be on the lookout for suspiciously cheap prices. Medicine online is much cheaper than in pharmacies because the medicine is sold directly to a customer from its warehouse, cutting out the cost of transport and storage. But when something seems too good to be true, it often is.
Be Aware of Prescription Drugs
An obvious sign of criminality in an online pharmacy is the sale of medicine that requires a doctor’s prescription. Prescription drugs are meant to be bought only upon review of an official doctor’s note – if an online pharmacy is selling more than simple over-the-counter drugs, then you have enough cause to be suspicious of their practices.
Do check, of course, if a certain drug is meant to be sold only with a prescription under any circumstances before jumping to conclusions. If possible, some online pharmacies may even accept prescriptions by mail.
Take Online Reviews into Account
Testimonials are a powerful thing. Unless reviews all sound suspiciously similar or tend to come from the same place, they’re a very useful tool for gauging the honesty and quality of a pharmacy’s service. Good reviews indicate a business with integrity and a focus on proper customer care – bad reviews mean you should stay as far away as possible.
Many pharmacies offer their testimonials in plain view to prove their authenticity – review the testimonials with a suspicious eye, and look elsewhere online for third-party sites that promote an online pharmacy’s service.
Try and Stay Local
It’s generally much easier if you buy from an online pharmacy in your region or, in the very least, your country. That way, you can also review your country’s national association for pharmacies, and check whether or not the one you’ve found is registered.
Earlier this year, Indian pharmacies formed the Indian Internet Pharmacy Association to protect customers and demand safer regulation and harsher scrutiny within the industry, according to a press release hosted on PharmaBiz.com. The association claims to be on the forefront to “fulfill the Prime Minister’s vision for a digital India.”
Due to the youth of the association, membership is still incomplete – but with enough time, its list will grow more exhaustive.
A qualitative online pharmacy store – such as BigChemist – will ensure two things that any medical professional should ensure: high quality medicine, and total confidentiality. One of the most important aspects of a respected online medical store is the ability to keep client information and details completely confidential – to avoid lawsuits, illegal pharmacies that make a buck from selling their customer data alongside fake drugs often use incredibly obtuse legal language to make it ambiguous whether or not they’re protecting your data.
When you’re confident in your online pharmacy’s validity, it can be a godsend. Given the state of India’s healthcare, medicine can be quite difficult to source, and pharmacies aren’t always stocked with what you need – because of that, online pharmacies fill an important niche. As Livemint.com notes, 82 percent of urban Indian patients do not have access to employer-provided health insurance – unless you’re insured, it’s best to save as much money as possible on medicine and treat symptoms before they become problems. Having easy, safe access to medicine online is a great way to do that.