How do I get my medications from a safe source?

Once you and your doctor decide you need a medicine, it’s important to get it from a safe source. Get your medicine from a licensed pharmacist. Your local pharmacist can answer your questions. He or she can tell you the right way to take your medicine and store it in your home. Your pharmacist can also see what other medicines you take. He or she can warn you of interactions that may occur from taking your medicines together and advise you on how to avoid interactions. He or she can also explain possible side effects you may have from taking your medicines. Plus, when you obtain your medicines from your local pharmacist, you know that they are real medicines.

Sometimes some people prefer to buy medicines from Internet Web sites rather than buying medicines from their local pharmacy. While some well-known pharmacies have safe pharmacy Web sites, not all sites are safe. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has found that some sites distribute the wrong medicine or fake medicine. Visit the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy Web site to see which Internet pharmacies are certified as safe.

Remember to only take medicine prescribed for you by your doctor. Never take a medicine from a friend or stranger on the Internet. You may think it’s easier than seeing a doctor or pharmacist, but it’s not safe.

Don’t share your prescription medicine with anyone. Medicines can act differently in different people. Take medicines prescribed by your doctor or with your doctor’s recommendation.
Unsafe sources for medicines can come from both caring and illicit sources. Both contain dangers for the patient who needs medicine to control illness, aches, or long-term conditions.

Medicines are expensive. Family members and friends may try and help manage your costs by sharing medicines they don’t need any more. These can be samples they never used or prescriptions they started on and didn’t finish. These medicines should have been thrown away, but they linger in the back of medicine cabinets. Patients keep them as they feel they may need them someday. Well-meaning friends and family may try and share these with you, but you should not accept them. They could negatively affect your health due to interactions with other medicines you are taking. They also may affect you conditions you don’t even know about.

More frightening are the individuals that prey on patients who are under financial and other limitations that keep them from getting the medicines they need. Be cautious if any deal looks too good to be true. Counterfeit drug marketers can contact you via email and text on your cell phones. It’s important to purchase prescription drugs and over-the counter medicines through registered pharmacies and reputable Internet drugstores. The National Association of Boards of Pharmacy AwareRX program and the US Food and Drug administration consumer web sites have good information for you. They can help make you aware of the dangers and tricks imitation pharmacies can play on you. If purchasing medicines via the internet is attractive to you, these organizations have lists of valid online pharmacies so you can confirm that the site you want to buy your medicines through is genuine.

The bottom line is to work with your doctor or pharmacist to sort this out if different methods of getting your medicines are of interest to you.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.