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online pharmacy online

Updated on July 6, 2013

What is an online pharmacy?

Millions of people use prescription medications and drugs on a regular basis. Few of us actually have a working pharmacy in the basement; therefore we are obligated to look elsewhere for providers. The Internet provides connections to online pharmacies, online prescription medication suppliers, and online facilities for securing goods and services that would otherwise be purchased at the corner drug store or the big box superstore at the local mall.

Instead of driving to the store, we sometimes have the option of ordering our pharmaceutical products online, from online pharmacies. These companies may be reputable, or they may be in someone else's basement. The quality of the web site should in no way be construed as any indication whatsoever of the quality, veracity, or reliability of the provider.

Why have online pharmacies become big business?

Some prescription medications cost big bucks when purchased locally and can be obtained for a much lower cost via online providers. Some are embarrassing to obtain on a face-to-face basis. We don't want the local pharmacist to know we're taking a pill to treat our tiny ego. Conversely, online providers are only too happy to mail us moderate quantities of pills wrapped in plain brown wrappers sans labels. Only the postman knows for sure.

Indeed, there are categories of prescription medications that address quality of life issues rather than survival issues. In other words, you won't necessarily die if you don't get your pill. Many people are willing to self-prescribe these products, bypassing the traditional doctor visit / professional examination / hand-written prescription process that has been reasonably effective for many years. For better or worse, online pharmacies, online drug companies and online medical supply companies are configured to facilitate this type of patient. There's a strong attraction to skipping the $100 doctor visit in order to hint around for a prescription. Ordering online virtually ensures that your local family doctor won't have a record of your transaction and your medical record won't be sullied by some medical condition that can be otherwise 'treated' by a few clicks of your mouse. No news is good news.

Should you use an online pharmacy, online drug provider, or online medical service provider of any kind?

Anti-inflammatory drugs are extremely popular. Americans take millions of them every day (not all by the same person). We typically purchase them from the local drug store or the pharmacy in the back of the local grocery store. Some "anti-inflams" are OTC (over the counter) but more powerful versions require a prescription. Anyone of legal age may walk into the store and plunk down money for an OTC medication. Executing the in-person transaction, usually with a pharmacist who is at least visually familiar to you, almost guarantees that the product will be 'correct'. The dosage will be metered properly, the concentration will be accurate, and the manufacturer will almost certainly be accurate.

Unfortunately, most of us can't tell a counterfeit anti-inflammatory medication from an M&M. Ordering anything online includes risks. For example, ordering a GPS (Global Positioning System) online may result in a defective unit that maps you into a creek, but hopefully the average driver realizes the folly of his ways before going feet-wet. On the other hand, a defective anti-inflammatory medication presents greater potential risks and much more difficulty in detecting those risks. In other words, it's difficult to identify a fake pill and it's relatively easy to fake a pill. The US government takes great pains to prevent paper money from being counterfeited; each bill includes special ink, special fibers, complex designs, and super-secret materials embedded in the paper. This strategy works (to a point) because almost no one ingests paper money. Applying similar anti-duplication techniques to oral medications becomes problematic very quickly. Any foreign materials added to the pill had better be designed to pass through the human body in a completely benign manner.

What is the advantage of buying medications, lotions, potions, and anti-inflammatories from the neighborhood store?

  • They have a record of your drug history; therefore possibly dangerous interactions can be identified.
  • They are staffed with degreed and experienced pharmacists.
  • They stand behind their products.
  • They deal with reputable manufacturers.
  • They can suggest generics, which can save you money.
  • The delay from prescription to fulfillment can be minutes.

What is the advantage of online pharmacies, online drug stores, and online medical supply dealers?

  • They cost less.
  • They might be staffed with degreed and experienced pharmacists.
  • They might stand behind their products.
  • They might deal with reputable manufacturers.


Think carefully and do your research before dealing with an online pharmacy, online drug store, or online medical supplier. Consider the benefits and potential risks.

I have used an online pharmacy for my pharmacy needs

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Photo Credit: Carlos Porto


The author is not directly compensated by any online pharmacy, online drug company, online medical supplier, or online provider or any kind, nor any local provider, pharmacy, big box superstore, or retailer. No positive or negative endorsement of any kind should be construed or implied from this article.


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    • dallas93444 profile image

      Dallas W Thompson 7 years ago from Bakersfield, CA

      I have a good friend/pharmacist in Nipomo, Calif who is an outstanding community leader and participant. He knows each and every customer by name and their history. And he enjoys jazz music..! I hope he is not as he fears, "a buggy whip." The RX chains make it a real challenge to compete and provide what he feels his customers need. Add the insurance "challenge," and therein is the real challenge to smile, pay the bills and "be happy."

    • FCEtier profile image

      Chip 7 years ago from Cold Mountain

      Nice article nicomp.

      Dallas, most local drugstores (both chain and independents) offer some form of on-line shopping.

      I've been practicing pharmacy for over thirty years and I can't think of a good reason to advise patients to use on-line doctors and pharmacies or to get foreign drugs.

      Find a local pharmacist that you like and trust then deal with them.

    • dallas93444 profile image

      Dallas W Thompson 7 years ago from Bakersfield, CA

      Perhaps the local drugstore should sell online ! Combine the concepts of both....

    • nicomp profile image

      nicomp really 7 years ago from Ohio, USA

      @drbj: You done got so much book learnin' that it makes my head hurt.

    • drbj profile image

      drbj and sherry 7 years ago from south Florida

      I had trouble differentiating them, too, so I came up with this complicated solution. If I say something defamatory about you - say is slander. Both start with "s."

      If I write something libelous - libraries ("l") are where you find books. Voila! Books are written.

      No charge - this time.

    • nicomp profile image

      nicomp really 7 years ago from Ohio, USA

      @drbj: Sounds like libel... or slander... I can never keep those straight. ;)

    • drbj profile image

      drbj and sherry 7 years ago from south Florida

      Online meds could make you dead(s). Whattya think, nicomp?

      Would legitimate pharmacies/apothecaries be interested in that slogan