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PRESCRIPTION PRECAUTION

Friday, May 19, 2017

We order almost everything else online, so when it comes to prescription medication, it may seem like an ordinary step. However, there are a few risks involved. Khevna Pandit warns you about some of them

Click and confirm — that’s all it takes to shop online. After all, with everything at our fingertips, access to everyday essentials has become increasingly convenient for people around the world. Whether it is buying a brand new dress or signing up for health insurance, the internet gives us an array of options. It may seem like a godsend, but there are many things to keep in mind before making a purchase online. Apart from the credibility of a source and the authenticity of the product, a lot of intricate details should go into your thought processes before you click on the “confirm payment” option. And, it is the same with buying prescription medicine online. From identifying if the source is legit to knowing if your purchase is legal, it is not surprising if you’re a little hesitant about taking the step. That being said, it isn’t completely dodgy to shop for drugs online if you take the correct measures before going forth with the process. Here we give you a few tips to go about the process safely.

A risky trade
Buying safe medicines online could be more challenging that you think. According to the U.S. Food & Drug Administration, only 3% of online pharmacies are considered to be safe as well as legal. You may encounter shady websites that portray themselves as legitimate to lure consumers. Besides, you even have to keep an eye out for authenticity of certain medicines. The World Health Organization has said that one in two medicines sold online is counterfeit! There have been cases of boric acid, lead and even highway paint found in phony medicines being sold online. So, in order to go about safely purchasing medication online, here are a few pointers.

  • Make sure the pharmacy is legit: First things first; make sure the website you’re browsing through is legal. The National Association of Boards of Pharmacy (or NABP) has reviewed nearly 11,500 internet outlets that sell prescription medication and found that 96% are out of compliance with the laws. Go through their list to verify whether the website you’re referring to is legit.
     
  • Keep your prescription at hand: One thing to remember when purchasing prescription medication online is that you will always require a valid doctor’s prescription for your medication. Legitimate online pharmacies will go through your prescription. This is to protect you from harmful drugs you may encounter online. Beware of any site that lets you go forward without a valid prescription from a recognised doctor.
     
  • Compare and shop: The good thing about shopping online is that you can get deals by substituting big brands with generic medications if you’re well versed with the names of the drugs; but be wary of ‘cheap’ medicines. Suspiciously cheap drugs are disguised by attractive prices, but they may be counterfeits. Always compare the prices on different websites before settling on the brand you wish to buy.
     
  • Check the product carefully on delivery: When your order arrives, make sure to check that the bottles are not cracked or the labels have not been tampered with. Do not accept products if the packaging seems mishandled or shoddy. If the medication you’ve received seems suspicious, contact the online pharmacy to cross check its authenticity. If you suffer from unusual side effects from consuming the medication, consult a general physician immediately.
     
  • Stay informed: If you’re a regular online shopper and are comfortable buying drugs online, it is important to stay informed about risks involved as well as how to use and dispose these medicines after buying. AWARxE, a website launched by the NABP, allows the consumer to stay up-to-date with all the latest information, fraudulent pharmacies and counterfeit drugs.

KEEPING AN EYE OUT
Here are a few more things to look out for while browsing through websites for medicines

  • The first thing you should do is make sure the URL starts with “https://” and not “http://”. The ‘s’ denotes that the web page is secure.
     
  • Give the website a cursory scan if you feel as though there is something suspicious. Avoid websites that don’t have appropriate contact details provided.
     
  • Most websites offer assistance from doctors online in case you require help. Don’t trust websites where there’s no one to talk to.
     
  • Look at the website’s return policies. A comprehensive return policy is one way of ensuring that the website is trustworthy.
     
  • Don’t trust websites that ask for your personal details. Be cautious, because this can be done in various deceptive ways. These websites are often in guise of companies trying to extort money.
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