Types of Online Pharmacies
Traditional: Most legitimate online pharmacies require you to provide a prescription obtained from an in-person examination with your doctor. Prices from these pharmacies are often lower than those from pharmacies that offer or accept prescriptions based on remote consultations.
Pharmacies in this category can include major U.S. national chains; neighborhood pharmacies in the U.S. and Canada, and some in Australia, India, Israel, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom; large domestic and international mail-order prescription fulfillment centers.
Most pharmacies with a traditional prescription requirement carry the full stock of prescription drugs you would find in your neighborhood pharmacy, except legitimate online pharmacies will not sell controlled drugs internationally.
Remote Consultation: You may be looking to obtain a prescription online, rather than in person with a doctor. Websites offering this service, generally known as online consultation pharmacies, remote consulting pharmacies, or prescribing pharmacies, work with physicians who review a patient's self-reported medical history and then write a prescription if deemed appropriate but many are not adequately safeguarding their customers' health. Their focus is usually on "lifestyle" drugs that are non-addictive and less likely to require physician monitoring.
Range of Medications Sold By Online Pharmacies
Not all online pharmacies sell the broad range of prescription drugs that you would expect to find in your neighborhood pharmacy. Their product range typically falls into one of the following categories:
- "Full" range of medication, including prescription and over-the-counter products, as well as testing supplies and other health and beauty products just as you would find in a large pharmacy.
- "Over 500 drugs" includes almost all prescription medication sold at your neighborhood pharmacy.
- "Between 250-499 drugs" covering those medications representing the majority of prescription sales.
- "Popular" medications, the 10 to 50 top-selling prescription drugs.
- "Lifestyle" medications, such as those used for sexual enhancement, hair growth, contraception, weight loss, herpes, and smoking cessation.
- "Specialized" medications for a single purpose, such as for pain, or specific medical conditions.
Benefits and Risks of Using an Online Pharmacy
- Lower prices — Savings of 90% aren't uncommon when shopping for medicine online. Lower drug prices in other countries, lower generic drug prices in the U.S., lower overhead costs compared to brick-and-mortar pharmacies, and lower price mark-ups by discount pharmacies often result in savings compared to local pharmacy prices.
- Privacy/Anonymity — Some people understandably feel more comfortable purchasing medication online due to concerns of privacy. In this day and age, it's common to want to speak to a pharmacist about prescriptions and health online or over the phone rather than in person.
- Convenience — If you find it physically difficult to make it to the pharmacy, live in a remote rural area, or have a busy schedule, online and mail-order pharmacies enable you to avoid travel so you can save time. Many online pharmacies will also remind you when you are able to order a refill to help you maintain your regimen.
- Medical information — Some online pharmacies provide useful information about medications and diseases as well as links to medical resources such as universities, government agencies, and health associations.
- Some do not dispense drugs through licensed pharmacies — Licensed, regulated and properly inspected pharmacies require safe dispensing practices and the oversight of licensed pharmacists. Purchasing drugs from an unlicensed pharmacy can greatly increase your chances of buying counterfeit, substandard, or adulterated products.
- Some online pharmacies don't adequately safeguard your health — By failing to require a prescription, you could take medication that is not appropriate for you. It could make you sick or kill you.
- Some do not give their address and/or telephone number — Pharmacy websites that do not publish their contact information or, even worse, publish false information, are more likely to sell counterfeit, substandard, adulterated products or even not send you anything.
- Additional fees are typically added to the drug price — There is often a shipping fee and there could also be a medical fee, and/or an account set up fee, but it's not very common.
- Prices can change quickly — Some pharmacy sites post lowball prices to attract customers, and then raise them. We make sure prices listed on our site are as up-to-date and accurate as possible.
- Some may sell medications that can be extremely dangerous, if not taken under medical supervision — In the U.S., these drugs are known as controlled substances, such as hydrocodone, Valium, or Xanax. Don't order from a website offering to sell you controlled substances without a prescription or to write you a prescription for them based on your responses to an online questionnaire. Other drugs, known as restricted distribution drugs, such as such as Accutane, Mifeprex or Thalomidare, are not controlled substances, but are also dangerous if taken without the appropriate medical supervision.
The Bottom Line
With all of that said, the positives of ordering pharmacies online clearly outweigh any negatives offset by fake companies. Just make sure to do your research, ask around, read online reviews, and check in with your doctor to verify the legitimacy of an online pharmacy.
Reputable pharmacies are often affiliated with reputable organizations and get glowing reviews from major clients as well as physicians.
The bottom line is, online pharmacy delivery in Canada has a more important role to play in today’s market as patients become older, frailer, and develop more complex co-morbidities.
Plus Virtual’s pharmacy team also follows up after each delivery to confirm the order status. We advise all patients to discard the packaging at once and wash their hands with warm water and soap for a minimum of 20 seconds. Patients can also consider using hand sanitizer to disinfect their hands before and after they receive their prescription.
Are you interested in learning more about Plus Virtual’s online services? Get in touch with us today to speak to one of our customer representatives and place an order!