What is an Internet Pharmacy?

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  • Written By: wiseGEEK Writer
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 12 October 2018
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An Internet pharmacy is a business that may operate totally or partially online. When these businesses are legitimate they do not dispense medications without valid prescriptions, though some of them offer doctor consultations online so people can obtain prescriptions. Offline, the center of these businesses may greatly vary in location. Some are in the US, the UK, and Canada, and others are in Mexico, Australia and Africa. It may not always be easy to find out from where drugs will be shipped.

There are many people who use an Internet pharmacy or more than one to fill prescriptions and many of them are quite reputable and safe to use. The best way to find the good ones available is to look to regional accrediting organizations that testify to the safety of the pharmacy. Without this accreditation, use is not risk-free and sometimes people hazard getting the wrong medicines, expired prescriptions or medications they should not have without a proper health screening.

As stated, each country or area may have different criteria by which to judge the legitimacy of an Internet pharmacy. Some of the things that normally are considered include that the pharmacy is run by at least one licensed pharmacist, and that medications dispensed are only with prescription. There may also be scrutiny on from where medications are manufactured and drug storage procedures too. The handling of certain medications, like those that are addictive, is also telling when regulating agencies approve online pharmacies.


One of the reasons that use of the Internet pharmacy has steadily risen is due to the potential to buy medications at lower prices. This may be of particular importance to those who lack any form of prescription drug coverage. It can simply be cheaper to get drugs online than it is to obtain them from a traditional pharmacy. This doesn’t mean prices are dramatically lowered, and some brand name drugs can still be very high priced, but even a small savings could be significant to someone with a limited income.

Another reason cited for attractiveness of Internet pharmacies is that they are convenient to use. Though people will have to wait a brief time for a prescription to arrive via the mail, it can be ordered at just about any time without making an extra trip. Many find this ease of use suitable justification for shopping online.

Interestingly, some pharmacies that were traditionally bricks and mortar establishments are now taking their cue from the Internet pharmacy. They may have fully staffed pharmacies accessible online that will ship or allow for store pick-up, and that allow people to renew prescriptions as needed. This trend is likely to continue, given the popularity of Internet use.



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