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

    Sarcopenia With Aging

    From the time you are born to around the time you turn 30, your muscles grow larger and stronger. But at some point in your 30s, you begin to lose muscle mass and function, a condition known as age-related sarcopenia or sarcopenia with aging. People who are physically inactive can lose as much as 3% to 5% of their muscle mass per decade after age 30. Even if you are active, you will still experience some muscle loss. Although there is no generally accepted test or specific level of muscle mass for...

    Read the Sarcopenia With Aging 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