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How to Review an Online Pharmacy Category: Pharmacotherapy by - October 29, 2012 | Views: 27334 | Likes: 1 | Comment: 0  

Fake online pharmacies

Protect yourself before placing your online prescription orders…recognize the VIPPS seal

As a consumer, it is always better to follow safe practices while purchasing medication online. Through careful research cautious consumer will be able to identify which online pharmacy sites are safe. Rogue websites are easily found through any search engine and drugs purchased on these sites may be sub-potent, counterfeit, contaminated, and unsafe. Protect yourself by recognizing sites that are accredited through Verified Internet Pharmacy Practice Sites (VIPPS).

Rogue online pharmacies often mislead consumers by presenting themselves in an appealing display and offer a wide range of products at drastically lower prices than other pharmacies. Some even break the law by providing medications without a valid prescription. Here are some of the potential risks from purchasing medications from fake online pharmacies:

  • Fake, unapproved, or outdated medications
  • Little or no quality control in the purity, packaging, nor storage of the medications
  • Medications that can potentially be contaminated
  • Medications that are not intended to treat appropriate condition or disease
  • Medications that contain or made with the wrong active ingredients
  • Medications that contain too little, too much, or even no active ingredients at all
  • Medications that are packaged in phony packaging that looks legitimate

​By recognizing the following key points below you can avoid dealing with rogue online pharmacies. A good rule of thumb while making any purchase is, “if it’s too good to be true, it probably is fake.”

  • Pharmacies that offer prices that are dramatically lower than the competition
  • Pharmacies offer to sell prescription drugs without a prescription
  • Does not have a pharmacist with an accessible telephone number
  • They do not operate in the United States
  • They send you drugs with unknown quality or origin

Verified Internet Pharmacy Practice Sites (VIPPS) are sites that are recommended by the National Associated of Board of Pharmacy (NABP). In order to obtain the VIPPS seal, online pharmacies have to go through an accreditation process that includes a thorough review of all policies and procedures, an on-site inspection, and approval of all activities involving receiving, reviewing, and dispensing medications.

Here is how to spot legitimate online pharmacies.

  • Pharmacy must be located in the United States
  • Must be licensed by the state board of pharmacy where the website is operating
  • Require a valid prescription for prescription medicines from your doctor
  • Must provide contact information and allow you to talk to a pharmacist if you have problems or questions
  • Must contain VIPPS (Verified Internet Pharmacy Practice Sites) seal on the webpage

Remember, you can protect yourself from these rogue internet pharmacies by always selecting a VIPPS pharmacy for you and your family.

Here are alternatives ways to save money on your medications without using online pharmacies:

  • Ask your doctor/pharmacist about generic options
  • Ask your doctor/ pharmacist about splitting higher dose pills
  • Do as much comparison shopping as possible to find the cheapest price from local pharmacies
  • Take advantage of programs for generic medications for just $4-$10 a month at pharmacies such as Wal-mart, K-mart, and Target
  • Look for patient assistance programs from drug manufactures, patient advocacy groups, and government subsidized health clinics
  • Ask for free samples from your physicians
  • Obtain discount cards which are available online for free

Here are additional resources

How To Reduce Medication Cost

Verify online pharmacies that carry the VIPPS seal here.

Free medication discount cards can be found at the following websites:


Author: Mai Nguyen, Pharm. D Candidate 2013


U.S Food and Drug Administration. "For Consumers." The Possible Dangers of Buying Medicines over the Internet. FDA, 01 Oct. 2012. Web. 15 Oct. 2012. <>.

Clark-Lynn, Sarah. "News & Events." FDA Takes Action against Thousands of Illegal Internet Pharmacies. FDA, 04 Oct. 2012. Web. 15 Oct. 2012. <>



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