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LegitScript Standard 9: Website Transparency

The ninth LegitScript Standard has to do with how up front an Internet pharmacy is about its business practices. As you might have guessed, LegitScript requires that our approved pharmacy websites are highly transparent about how they conduct business.

LegitScript Standard 9: Website transparency. The pharmacy must not engage in practices or extend offers on its website that may deceive or defraud patients as to any material detail regarding the pharmacy, pharmacy staff, prescription drugs, or financial transactions.

What does it mean? When a pharmacy website is “transparent”, it means that it is open about where and how it conducts business. Legitimate pharmacy websites list their addresses and contact information right out in the open. Many rogue Internet pharmacies fail to post any of this information, and when they do, it is often inaccurate. When you order a prescription online, you want to be sure you know where the drugs are coming from, and that you can get in touch with the pharmacy if need be. Internet users have every right to be wary of a pharmacy website that does not provide such information. After all, why would a legitimate business have cause to hide their location and contact information?

But Standard 9 doesn’t just target the transparency of contact information. It also encompasses the hidden “surprises” rogue Internet pharmacies often slip past consumers. A good example are the recurring fees rogue Internet pharmacies often charge. Many customers have complained of completing a one-time order with an Internet pharmacy, only to find their credit card being charged every month for unwanted refills or fees. And how can you put a halt to the charges when the pharmacy doesn’t give you a means to contact it in the first place? Good question.

Another shady practice employed by many rogue Internet pharmacies is the touting of “cheap generics!” Sounds pretty good, and pretty legitimate, since many of us frequently opt for generic drugs as a cost-cutting technique. Generic drugs are a great way of saving money, as long as the drugs are FDA-approved and safe. The only problem is, not all drugs have a legally available generic alternative. If a drug is still under patent protection (20 years post-patent date), generic versions of the drug are illegal in the US. And with good reason: illegal generics are unregulated, and may in fact contain diluted or counterfeit ingredients. Offering non-approved generics is just another rogue Internet pharmacy trick to make consumers think they are getting quality for a bargain. In reality, the drugs are not approved, are unregulated, and are sometimes more expensive than the genuine version: just because they’re advertised as cheaper doesn’t mean they really are.

How can I be sure I’m not getting duped? The short answer is, use the LegitScript pharmacy validator to see if a given pharmacy website has made it to our approved list. Only safe, legitimate Internet pharmacies will be listed there. Otherwise, look for telltale signs such as a lack of contact information or too-good-to-be-true offers prominently displayed on a pharmacy website. Legitimate pharmacy websites are not interested in pushing drugs. Rather, they exist to provide a safe and convenient alternative for consumers who prefer to order their prescriptions online.