How to Tell Which Online Pharmacies Are Legitimate

How to tell which online pharmacies are legitimate.

from Reader's Digest | October 2004

Plenty of online pharmacies are honest businesses — experts think they actually outnumber the sham ones — and they offer big advantages:

You can shop the Internet for the best prices, you can buy certain drugs without embarrassment, and you can do it all from the comfort of your armchair. But how can you be confident an online pharmacy is legitimate? One sure sign is if the site has the VIPPS seal of approval. That’s a certification from the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy (VIPPS stands for Verified Internet Pharmacy Practice Sites), and the seal must be displayed prominently on the business’s website. You can also check the NABP’s website for a list of pharmacies that have earned the VIPPS seal (nabp.net).

You should be suspicious of any online pharmacy that:

  • Doesn’t require you to mail in a prescription;
  • Doesn’t speak to your doctor to ensure your prescription is valid;
  • Doesn’t ask you to do more than fill in an online questionnaire;
  • Doesn’t have a toll-free number and street address listed on its website;
  • Doesn’t make pharmacists available to answer questions about the medications.Be on guard, too, if the site sells only “lifestyle” medications, like drugs for impotence, obesity or pain.