Skip to content

50+: Live Better, Longer

Font Size
A
A
A

Online and Mail-Order Medicine: How to Buy Safely

By Kara Mayer Robinson
WebMD Feature

You know you can save time and money when you buy medicine online or through a mail-order pharmacy, but still you wonder: Is the seller legit and are the drugs safe?

Follow these steps to make sure you're getting a good deal.

Recommended Related to Healthy Seniors

6 Yoga Poses That Age Well

You can do yoga at any age -- really! It's just a matter of picking what type of yoga you do and working within your abilities. It might even help you age better, keeping you flexible and building strength through low-impact moves. “We lose about a half-pound of muscle per year for each year we’re not regularly engaged in resistance training,” says Jessica Matthews, assistant professor of exercise science at Miramar College in San Diego. Strength training also helps keep your bones strong. Yoga...

Read the 6 Yoga Poses That Age Well article > >

No. 1. Be wary of a super-bargain.

"If it's too good to be true, it probably is," says Carmen Catizone, executive director of the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy (NABP). That's a group that encourages safety standards for pharmacies.

An extremely low price can be a sign that there's something fishy going on. For example, if you normally pay $100 for your medicine and you can get it for $5, be careful. It could mean the drugs are sold outside the U.S. and aren't approved by the FDA.

No. 2. Check for the VIPPS seal.

When you go to a pharmacy's web site, look for a seal that says VIPPS. It stands for "Verified Internet Pharmacy Practice Sites."

If it's there, it means the site was screened and approved by the NABP. 

No. 3. Look for "dot pharmacy" in the address.

If an online pharmacy has ".pharmacy" at the end of its web address, it's OK to buy medicine there. Only outfits that follow the law are allowed to use it.

No. 4. Make sure it's licensed and based in the U.S.

Your online or mail-order pharmacy should be located in this country. Check if it's licensed or registered by the state where it's based. To find out, go to the web site of the NABP.

You can also look for licensing information on the online pharmacy's web site. "If they don't list it, that's a warning sign," Catizone says.

No. 5. Check that it has a pharmacist.

You should be able to talk with one on the phone, by email, or online, says Laura E. Knockel, PharmD, a clinical assistant professor at the University of Iowa.

Look for a 1-800 number. Call the pharmacist if you have any questions, even a small one.

Knockel suggests you fill all your prescriptions at the same pharmacy, if possible. You'll get to know your pharmacist, and it'll be easier to spot problems, like drugs you can't take together.

Today on WebMD

blueberries
Eating for a longer, healthier life.
woman biking
How to stay vital in your 50s and beyond.
 
womans finger tied with string
Learn how we remember, and why we forget.
man reviewing building plans
Do you know how to stay healthy as you age?
 
fast healthy snack ideas
Article
how healthy is your mouth
Tool
 
dog on couch
Tool
doctor holding syringe
Slideshow
 
champagne toast
Slideshow
Two women wearing white leotards back to back
Quiz
 
Man feeding woman
Slideshow
two senior women laughing
Article