Due to the steady increase in prescription drug costs, online pharmacies have been growing in popularity. Limitations ongoing to physical stores during the pandemic have only furthered this shift.

And, while many online pharmacies are safe, there are others that are untrustworthy, even illegal. It can be difficult to discern the difference between a quality pharmacy and one that sells subpar products.

Fortunately, there is a solution. There are several characteristics you can look for in a legitimate online pharmacy so that you can have the confidence that you are purchasing safe and effective medications.

Ensuring Convenience and Cost-Savings

There are a number of benefits to using online pharmacies. These include the convenience of not having to go to a physical store and access to better prices for name-brand and generic medications.

When ordering online, you do not have to go out to a physical store, wait in line, or have a medical consultation in the middle of a crowded store. Online pharmacies also allow you to upload an electronic prescription and reorder at your convenience.

They offer the same pharmacist support as brick-and-mortar pharmacies. They also provide customer service personnel that are accessible by phone or through online chat. This means you can get any questions about your prescription or the ordering process answered from the comfort and privacy of your own home.

Another convenience of online pharmacies is the ease of reordering. You can elect to receive automatic reminders that a prescription needs refilling.

Online pharmacies have access to larger amounts of medication than many stores and retailers. They also have less overhead, which allows them to keep costs low.

This also allows you to order different quantities each time, as opposed to the standard amount issued at regular pharmacy stores. This can be especially handy for people who take medication on an “as-needed” basis and use varying amounts during particular spans of time.

Another advantage of ordering medications online is the ability to compare a wide range of drug options at your leisure. This includes comparing prices and the availability of generic alternatives. This information is readily available online, so you are not going around to different stores shopping for the lowest price.

What Are the Risks of Online Pharmacies?

The main danger of ordering online is doing so from an illegitimate or unregulated company. With these, the products you receive could be unsafe or counterfeit. They could even send you the wrong medication.

Another risk is that an online pharmacy has unlicensed or unqualified staff. This means there is no pharmacist to catch potential drug interactions or know how certain medications could impact underlying conditions.

How to Identify Illegitimate Pharmacies

Fortunately, there are a few things that stick out about illegal or illegitimate online pharmacies. Here are a few to keep an eye out for.


One of the big benefits of getting medication from online pharmacies is cheaper prices. But the old adage stands: if something seems “too good to be true,” then it probably is.

If you stumble up a company that has prices far below the rest of the market, it may be a reason to look at the company’s background and reputation.

Prescription Required

A legitimate online pharmacy will require a valid, original prescription. They will take steps to ensure the prescription’s authenticity, including contacting the prescribing physician.

In fact, many online pharmacies can contact your doctor to receive the script on your behalf, once you give them permission to do so. This is another convenient aspect of online pharmaceutical purchasing. But it is another way to confirm the company’s legitimacy as well.


One natural concern about ordering anything online is security. Legitimate online pharmacies will have robust encryption software to protect your personal and medical information. It is likely that they will advertise these safeguards.

If you cannot easily find this information on their site, you may inquire into what steps they take to ensure online security. Conversely, you can be certain that a legitimate online pharmacy will take care of your personal and medical information.

Online Reviews

A great way to investigate the legitimacy of online pharmacies is to read reviews. Keep in mind that those posted on an illegitimate pharmacy’s site could be fake.

Do your own research and find other users’ experience with the company. Also, see how long the company has been in operation. This may not be a determining factor of reputation, but having a long history of delivering quality drugs can be a strong indicator.

If you have concerns about the reputation of the online pharmacy, you may want to pass.

Find a Quality Pharmacy

Buying prescriptions from an online pharmacy online can offer great cost-savings and convenience. It can save you lots of money while avoiding the headache of going to a physical pharmacy. And ensuring that an online pharmacy is legitimate allows you to mitigate potential risks.

Illegitimate pharmacies can have websites that look legitimate. Do your research and find a quality pharmacy that offers the services and meets the standards listed above. You will know that you are getting safe medications, at an affordable price, and that your personal and medical information is being kept safe.

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