The American Cancer Society does not have an official policy on buying drugs online or in other countries, but you might find this information helpful.
Buying prescription drugs online can save about 20% to 30%, but there is no way to guarantee the product's safety. If you buy medical products online, be aware that:
- Buying medicines from an illegal Web site puts you at risk. You may get a contaminated or fake product, the wrong product, an incorrect dose, or no product at all.
- Taking an unsafe medicine puts you at risk for harmful drug interactions and other serious health outcomes.
- Getting a prescription drug by filling out a questionnaire without seeing a doctor can be very risky to your health. When you fill out a questionnaire, the answers often do not give a health care professional enough information to decide a drug is right for you, safe for you to use, or whether another treatment may be better, or if you have an underlying medical condition that may make using that drug harmful to you. The American Medical Association has found that this practice is generally below the standard for medical care.
Consider these tips when buying health products online:
- Contact the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy (at www.nabp.net or 847-391-4406) to find out if a Web site is a licensed pharmacy in good standing.
- Don't buy from sites that offer to: prescribe a prescription drug for the first time without a physical exam; sell a prescription drug without a prescription; or sell drugs not approved by FDA
- Don't do business with sites that do not have a registered pharmacist to answer questions.
- Avoid sites that do not identify with whom you are dealing and do not provide a US address and phone number to contact if there's a problem.
- Look for easy-to-find and easy-to-understand privacy and security policies. Don't give out personal information (social security number, date of birth, credit card number, or health history) unless you are sure that the site will protect them. Make sure the site will not share your information with others without your permission.
- It is not legal to import drugs bought from foreign Web sites. The risks are greater, and very little can be done if you get ripped off. And be aware that some Web sites do not tell the truth about which country they ship from.
- Talk to your health care professional before using any medicines for the first time.