Online Pharmacies – Beware! 7 reasons why local is safer


Why would a person want to use an online pharmacy? As a family doctor, I can only think of a few reasons to do it, but there are more reasons not to.
First, to list the reasons why a person might want to use an online pharmacy:

1. Lowest price. In theory, it might be possible to find a better price online than at your local pharmacy. Online stores do not have the overhead of a physical store and therefore may (or may not) offer lower prices.
2. Convenience. The younger generation likes to pay bills online, watch movies online, go to school online. Why not buy medicine online? Plus, if you’re 50 miles from the nearest pharmacy, ordering online can save you the time and hassle of driving an hour to get medications.
3. Outside the US medications. Online pharmacies are not limited to the United States, and drugs that are not available here are sometimes available elsewhere.
That being said, what are the dangers of using an online pharmacy? 1. No pharmacist to talk to. Unlike your local pharmacy where a pharmacist is available each time a drug is dispensed, online pharmacies may not offer this service. What if your pill looks different than the last time you took it? What if you received the wrong amount? What if the tablets are too hard to swallow or they crumble and fall apart? Will you save money if you buy a generic that is so poorly manufactured that it is ineffective or difficult to administer?
2. Questionable supply chain. Unless you order from a reputable pharmacy (an affiliate of an established store pharmacy, such as a national chain of stores), how do you know where your medications come from? Just because you order them in the US doesn’t mean they come from here. Do you want drugs from Asia? How will you know the source?
3. Counterfeit or contaminated drugs. How will you know if you are getting the right medication, or even a medication? Recently, counterfeit Alli was sold online, which contained an entirely different chemical in potentially dangerous doses. What if you are allergic to something and you don’t even know what you received?
4. Illegal drug purchases. Do you know the law? Is it legal to order drugs from another country that the FDA has not approved for sale in the United States? Do you know what controlled drugs are? Is the possibility of arrest worth it?
5. No doctor to supervise medications. Your doctor will most likely not approve of certain online purchases and may not want to take responsibility for prescribing any medications you buy from alternative sources. Who will you turn to for medical advice?
6. Notification of side effects. What will you do if you experience a side effect? Doctors and standard pharmacies report important side effects to drug companies or the FDA. The US pharmaceutical industry has a responsibility to ensure the safety of approved products. If your medicine was obtained from an unofficial source, this may not be possible.
7. Dangerous drugs. There is a reason doctors do not recommend certain medications, even though they are available for sale in this country and elsewhere. For example, certain asthma medications increase blood pressure and heart rate. Do you want to take a medicine when you are not fully informed about the side effects? There are good reasons why antibiotics are not sold without a prescription. Do you know which drug treats best which infection? Do you know what to do if it doesn’t work?
As mentioned above, an online pharmacy affiliated with a national chain of stores is probably as safe as going to a storefront pharmacy. But if you are looking for an offer from questionable sources, think twice before placing your order.