Equip yourself with knowledge to make safe online pharmacy and health product decisions
Are you confused about the world of Internet pharmacies? Are you wondering if those diet pills you saw online are safe? Do you know who to trust, and what to do to keep yourself and your family safe?
Explore the educational material below to equip yourself with the knowledge to protect yourself.
If you are a consumer who wants to purchase your medications or other health products online, it can be tough to tell which websites and products to trust. LegitScript can help you make informed decisions. We have the largest database of online pharmacies in the world as well as a continually growing database of dangerous health products. You can search for a pharmacy website or a health product on our homepage to see if it's safe.
Terms and Deﬁnitions
Online (Internet) Pharmacy: A website that facilitates the sale of one or more prescription drugs.
Rogue online pharmacy: An online pharmacy that intentionally or knowingly:
- violates, appears to violate, or encourages violation of Federal or state law or regulations;
- does not adhere to accepted standards of medicine and/or pharmacy practice, including standards of safety; and/or
- engages in fraudulent or deceptive business practices
"Rogue" also means "operating outside of normal regulatory controls." Internet pharmacies that ship drugs into a particular country and then claim that they do not have to comply with that country's drug safety standards because they are "offshore" or in a foreign jurisdiction meet this deﬁnition and are typically classiﬁed as "rogue."
NABP: The National Association of Boards of Pharmacy. This is the non-proﬁt organization that oversees pharmacy regulators (e.g. the state boards of pharmacy) in the US, Canada, New Zealand and elsewhere. LegitScript's pharmacy certiﬁcation standards are based on the NABP's VIPPS online pharmacy accreditation program standards.
Are Canadian Internet pharmacies safe?
Some Internet users have asked why we do not approve foreign pharmacies, including those that claim to be in Canada that ship to the US. There is a common misperception that "Canadian" Internet pharmacies are just as safe as brick-and-mortar pharmacies in the United States or in Canada. In many cases, they are not.
There is a big difference between walking into an actual pharmacy in Canada and ordering from one that claims to be Canadian online.
In order to drive costs down, many so-called "Canadian" online pharmacies maintain an ofﬁce with a pharmacist in Canada, but source drugs from India, China or Turkey, and circumvent both American and Canadian drug safety laws. It is difﬁcult for the Canadian authorities to respond, because the drugs may not enter Canada at any point in time.
- Some prescription drugs imported from foreign countries including Canada have turned out to be counterfeit.
- A 2005 FDA operation found that nearly half of the imported drugs intercepted from India, Israel, Costa Rica, and Vanuatu were shipped to ﬁll orders that consumers believed were placed with "Canadian" pharmacies. Of the drugs being promoted as "Canadian," 85 percent came from 27 countries around the globe.
- In August 2006, the FDA warned that RxNorth.com, a company based in Manitoba, Canada, was shipping counterfeit medications from other countries to American consumers who were ordering medications through the RxNorth and afﬁliated websites.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has advised that importing prescription drugs from outside of the United States is, in nearly all cases, a violation of Federal law. For those reasons, LegitScript does not approve Canadian Internet pharmacy websites.
What about pharmacy websites that prescribe a drug online, using an online questionnaire?
The National Association of Boards of Pharmacy, Federation of State Medical Boards, and LegitScript do not consider "online consultations" (receiving a prescription online through a "virtual diagnosis" from a physician that has never examined the patient) to be a safe medical or pharmaceutical practice.
- Who is the physician? With an "online diagnosis" or "online consultation," you can't always be sure that there is really a physician on the other end of the Internet.
- How well do they know your health? An "online consultation" does not include the ability for a physician to take blood pressure, listen to the heart and lungs, adequately discuss medical history, or perform many other important patient safety functions.
- Are they really any cheaper? These sites typically charge more than legitimate Internet pharmacies – just for the ability to avoid seeing a physician.
Resources to learn more about safe online pharmacies
Alliance for Safe Online Pharmacies: A non proﬁt organization that aims to protect patient safety globally and ensure patient access to safe and legitimate online pharmacies. LegitScript is a member of ASOP.
The Partnership for Safe Medicines: A non proﬁt organization dedicated to the safety of prescription drugs.
National Association of Boards of Pharmacy: A non proﬁt organization that supports the state boards of pharmacy in protecting public health. Operates the VIPPS and Vet-VIPPS accreditation programs which are the gold standard in online pharmacy accreditation.
European Alliance for Access to Safe Medicines: A non proﬁt organization dedicated to ﬁghting against counterfeit medicines and promoting patient safety around Europe.