With the rising healthcare costs in America, and specifically prescription drugs, many seek relief by purchasing prescription drugs online. People have turned to cheaper online alternatives for clothes, books, hotel reservations, and more; online prescription drug purchases are quickly becoming a solution for pharmacy needs. Some health insurance programs even offer buying prescription drugs online through national pharmacy chains.

Online Prescription Safety

Several safety precautions should be taken before purchasing prescriptions online.

Talk to your doctor. You should only take medications prescribed to you by your doctor. They will determine if a specific drug is safe for you, or if a better treatment option is available. Only use websites that require prescriptions.

Use a licensed pharmacy. The National Association of Boards of Pharmacy authorizes licensing for online pharmacies. Some websites also carry the seal of approval from Verified Internet Pharmacy Practice Sites, gained by maintaining state licenses and allowing inspections by the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy. Using a licensed pharmacy will also help guard against receiving a counterfeit drug with no active ingredients.

Compare Prices. Check the prices at your local pharmacy or drug store for perspective when shopping online. If the price sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

Require access to a registered pharmacist.

While some online pharmacies have conventional physical locations, any chosen online pharmacy should provide access to registered pharmacists to answer any questions or concerns you may have.

Canada’s Cheap Drugs

Canada has long been known for cheaper prescription drugs, compared to the US, and is at the forefront of the online pharmaceutical industry. Canada’s ability to sell cheap drugs, compared to the US, is in part to the Canadian government implementing price controls, capping the amount drug companies can charge drug distributers and pharmacies. The chances are high that your recent online prescription purchase will come from Canada.

The Future of Drugs in America

The increase of online prescription purchases has forced a legislative discussion within the federal government. The U.S. is the only industrialized nation without caps on the price pharmaceutical companies can charge. Proponents of this capitalistic practice hold that it promotes innovation, and encourages the development of best, safest, and most effective drugs. Some argue that introducing price controls on pharmaceuticals would limit the supply for consumers and ultimately decrease the average life span in America. Time will tell, as change is already here and sure to impact prices. Patient and consumer education is critical for purchasing prescriptions online, just as it was for online dating and online shopping during that shift in culture to a cheaper and convenient alternative.