These days, our entire online life, from our social life and career to how we manage our finances, the Internet helps us in many ways. The way people get medical advice and take medications has also changed digitally. With the click of a button, we can find a wealth of medical information and even diagnose based on the symptoms we are looking for. We can also buy the treatment you need online and deliver it to our home.
Buying medicines online is a great option when your GP’s offices are full, or if you need to take your medicines quickly and don’t have time to see your GP, but safety is more important than convenience.
In this guide, we will give you tips on how to keep yourself safe when buying medicines online and how to recognize fake online pharmacies and doctors’ services.
Where to buy medicines online?
You should not buy medicines from any old website, it should be a reliable, secure and registered online pharmacy or online doctor’s service where you buy medicines. Both services are regulated by the General Pharmaceutical Council to ensure the safe delivery of drugs to the public. However, there are some websites that claim to be online pharmacies or doctor’s services but lack the required credentials to prove they are legal and secure, and we will show you how to recognize these impostors.
You can buy medicines from an online pharmacy or online medical service, which should be able to write prescriptions and have registered pharmacists and doctors on hand to answer any questions you may have.
What is the difference between an online pharmacy and an online doctor’s services?
Because prescription drugs require supervision by a healthcare professional, you cannot purchase prescription-only drugs online without first consulting or sending a prescription from your healthcare provider.
Online pharmacies require a prescription from your general practitioner or healthcare professional before they can write a prescription. It can be submitted on paper or electronically through the Electronic Prescription Service (EPS). EPS allows your therapist to easily submit prescriptions to your chosen pharmacy.
Alternatively, you can buy medicines from an online prescription drug store, which works slightly differently than an online pharmacy. These services offer consultation with a registered physician with the General Medical Council (GMC), and based on the consultation, they can send your prescription to the pharmacy for dispensing. It works the same way as your general therapist’s surgery, except that it’s all online and more convenient if you can’t do the surgery for a personal consultation. Your online therapist must have the same qualifications and credentials as any doctor or pharmacist and follow the same guidelines.
What types of medicines can you buy online?
You can buy over-the-counter or prescription drugs online, including paracetamol, ibuprofen, birth control pills, Viagra, and many other medicines related to various medical conditions. However, stronger drugs like opiates should not be sold online. The latest regulations set by the General Pharmaceutical Council mean that online services can no longer prescribe or sell opiates, instead, you will need to visit your GP for a personal consultation. For more information on these new rules and how you can access these drugs, see our guide .
How do I know if it is safe to buy drugs on the website?
There is a checklist of things to look out for to make sure the website you buy your medicines from is legal. Search for:
1. Registration Logos
Any site that sells drugs legally must clearly state its authority to prove it. Note the logos below: the first shows that the company is registered with GPhC, and the second shows that the company is authorized by the Medicines and Medical Devices Regulatory Agency (MHRA) to legally sell drugs over the Internet.
These logos must be clearly displayed on the website if it is working legally.
2. Provides answers to questions about your health
Before you can buy any prescription drugs online, you need to ask a series of questions about your health and provide personal information to verify your identity. Beware of websites that allow you to complete a transaction without any health questions.
3. Prescription Before Medication
You will not be able to order your medicine online without a prescription. Legitimate online pharmacies and physician services will ask your healthcare provider for a valid prescription before dispensing a medication, or they must go through a consultation process to provide you with a prescription before dispensing a medication.
There should be people who can be spoken to by phone and email, including customer service, pharmacists, and doctors if you need to ask any questions related to your order, the drugs they sell, or any questions related to with health. If there is no contact information or address, question their accuracy and legality.
5. Safe payment system
All legal sites selling any product must have a secure encrypted payment system. Look for a padlock in the URL as an indicator that it is safe to purchase items from that website.
Take a look at the overall quality of the website and the medication information provided. Information must be scientifically researched and validated by experts, and include important information about the drug, such as dosage instructions and side effects.
How to detect fake online pharmacies and doctors’ services
There are also clear indications that some websites are illegally operating as pharmacies or medical services. Knowing if they are fake or not can be difficult, but keeping the following signs in mind will prevent you from falling into the trap of fraudulent sites. Here’s what to look for:
- Cheap prices that are too good to be true. If they are cheaper than other websites, it is a sign that they are not following best practice
- Avoid companies that allow you to buy prescription drugs without a valid prescription
- No evidence of regulatory registration. If the website does not have clear logos to prove that they have a license to sell drugs, this is a sure sign that they are not acting legally and there is a risk that their drugs may be counterfeit
- Check for grammar and spelling errors. Persistent misspellings on a site may indicate that this company is not staffed by professionals and suggests that the site is not trustworthy
- Sending spam emails – signs of spam emails may include subject lines with offensive or sexual language, spelling errors throughout the email, and the address may also seem too personal and unprofessional or unrelated to the company
- Is located outside the UK or shipping drugs from another country. Medicines sold in the UK have gone through rigorous testing and strict regulations. Medicines purchased outside the UK are not guaranteed to be safe, effective, or meet the same quality standards as here in the UK.
What are the risks of buying drugs from unauthorized websites?
When you buy from unlicensed drug websites, you are putting your health at serious risk. Unlicensed online pharmacies and doctors’ services are more likely to sell fake medicines that could potentially be harmful to your health. Counterfeit medicines may contain no original ingredients or contain hazardous ingredients. They may be less effective, cause unpleasant or serious side effects, and cause interactions with any other medications you take, as it is difficult to know exactly what these medications contain.
Not only your health is at risk, but your personal and financial data can be stolen or misused. These types of sites do not care about your health and therefore will not care about protecting your identity and money. If you don’t feel 100% comfortable giving them your financial details, you definitely shouldn’t take their medication.
Is it safe to buy medicines online?
Buying medicines online is the only option for many people, and there are some fantastic online pharmacies and physician services that provide excellent services for patients. While there are scammers out there, you can now distinguish scams from legitimate licensed online services by following our guide. Buying prescription drugs online is convenient and safe when done properly through services such as Doctor-4.