Prescription Drugs From Overseas Can Save You Hundreds, but Are They Safe?

Despite scary warnings, there are ways to check online pharmacy sources for their safety. Here are six tips to follow.

Do you fret about skyrocketing drug prices? Perhaps you would consider using an overseas pharmacy, but hesitate because you worry those less expensive medications aren’t safe.

Your concern is understandable. In the past, news reports have focused on potentially deadly counterfeit medications. But that doesn’t mean you need to rule out overseas pharmacies altogether.

There are ways to get the straight information about overseas pharmacies and their products before you order. For starters, check out PharmacyChecker.com, which vets overseas pharmacies for legitimacy.

“There are plenty of safe, international pharmacies. To conflate them with dangerous, drug-selling sites is just wrong,” says Dr. Tod Cooperman, CEO and co-founder of PharmacyChecker.com.

Gabriel Levitt, the president and co-founder of PharmacyChecker.com, says while there is no question that rogue pharmacies exist, many online international pharmacies provide safe and cost-effective medications to patients who would otherwise go without.

Why go through all the trouble of finding a reputable, overseas pharmacy? Because buying from such a pharmacy can translate into hundreds — if not thousands — of dollars in savings.

And the stakes are high: More than half of Americans take prescription drugs, with these patients taking an average of four medicines, according to a recent Consumer Reports survey.

Here are a few more ways to ascertain whether an overseas or online pharmacy is safe:

  1. Verify that a prescription is required. Any pharmacy that waives the requirement of a prescription is not to be trusted. So, call and ask if a prescription is needed. If the answer is “no,” don’t use that pharmacy.
  2. Look at the pharmacy license. Do not purchase medicines from any pharmacy that does not have a valid pharmaceutical license for the state to which it will sell.
  3. Scrutinize the website address. Does it end in “.pharmacy”? Does it have the Verified Internet Pharmacy Practice Sites (VIPPS) seal? Both are indicative of legitimate pharmacies.
  4. Make sure the pharmacy has a physical address. Most fraudulent online pharmacies conceal their locations. Reputable ones never do.
  5. Double-check verification resources. Who funds them? What are the qualifications of those that analyze pharmacies? How are the analyses done? Read the websites thoroughly. Then, look for news stories and other public information about them.
  6. Check a few verification sites. Your best bet is to check the pharmacy you want to use on several sites, including PharmacyChecker. If the reports differ, dig deeper.

What is your experience with prescription medication costs? Have you purchased from overseas? Share with us in comments below or on our Facebook page.

Nancy Dunham
Nancy Dunham @NancyDWrites

Nancy Dunham is a freelance journalist based in the Washington, D.C., metro area.

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