Should I Buy Medication Online?

doctor 150x150 Should I Buy Medication Online?You gotta love spam. Or maybe not. Either way, an unsolicited email from “CANAD1AN-DRUGSTORE” caught my eye this morning. It promised me “80% OFF CIAL1S-V1AGRA-LEV1TRA.”  

Hmmm. I need two bottles of insulin about every three weeks in order to live. Not to mention test strips, syringes, ketone kits, emergency blood sugar tablets and other supplies. These items are very expensive. Worse than a $5 a day coffee habit. Eighty percent off would be fantastic. But…

But me being me, I’m a little leery. Here’s what the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has to say about buying medications online:

Good points

  • It’s easier to get products. This is helpful if you can’t leave your home or live far from a drug store.
  • You can check many different sites to check out products and prices.
  • You can ask a pharmacist questions in private.


Some web sites:

  • May not know the cause of your health problem. They could also give you the wrong medicine for your illness.
  • Some sites will sell you prescription drugs even if you don’t have a prescription. This is against the law.
  • Don’t protect your private information, like your credit card number.

Some medicines sold online:

  • Are fake
  • Have things in them that are could hurt you
  • Are too strong or too weak
  • Are too old to work
  • Aren’t approved by the FDA
  • Aren’t made using safe standards
  • Aren’t safe to use with other meds or products you use
  • Aren’t labeled
  • Aren’t stored or shipped the right way

How can I buy online safely?

  • There is a program that makes sure online drug stores are legal and honest. It is called the VIPPS (Verified Internet Pharmacy Practice Site). Websites can choose to apply or not to apply to use the VIPPS seal. Before using a website, check for the VIPPS seal.
  • Don’t buy from sites that sell:
    • Prescription drugs even if you don’t have a prescription.
    • Products that are not approved by FDA.
  • Use sites that have a pharmacist to answer your questions online. Only buy from sites based in the US. It’s against the law to buy prescription drugs from other countries. It could also be unsafe.
  • Go to your doctor or clinic before using any medicine for the first time.
  • For more information, you can contact the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy, which works with the FDA to ensure drug safety, or the FDA at or 1-888-INFO-FDA.

If I do decide to try to buy diabetic supplies online, it won’t be by clicking on an unsolicited email with suspect spelling, that’s for sure.

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About Holly Doering

Holly Doering has worked for the Better Business Bureau Serving Eastern Washington, North Idaho, and Montana for half a decade. Her areas of expertise include the CORE Values Program (Character, Optimism, Respect, Ethics) for Teens and Charity Review as well as writing and editing. Prior to that, she has written for two newspapers, a local magazine, and taught English at the community college. She is the proud author of a short story in ZYZZYVA literary magazine and has had good luck publishing lots of poetry. Each year she rolls up her sleeves and wades into the autumn Nanowrimo writing madness and has several unfinished novels to her credit.