A federal survey found that 119 million Americans over the age of twelve take prescription medications on an ongoing basis.
Much of the time, getting to the pharmacy to fill those medications is a hassle. When online pharmacies began popping up, they seemed like the answer to everyone’s prayer. Unfortunately, not all these pharmacies have the best interests of patients in mind.
Some pharmacies even go so far as to tell those without a means to get their prescriptions they can write it out for them. But is it legal to order prescription drugs online without doctor help? Continue reading to learn everything you need to know.
Is It Legal to Order Prescription Drugs Online Without Doctor Help?
Online pharmacies have popped up by the hundreds. Some of these are legitimate and follow legal guidelines. Others, not so much.
Some pharmacies claim they can sell you name-brand medications without a prescription. This is against the law. Medications can only be prescribed to a person who has a prescription written by a real doctor.
This brings us to another issue with many of these pharmacies. They claim to have an “in-house doctor” who can write you a prescription if you tell them your symptoms. This is also illegal.
Most of these so-called “doctors” don’t hold medical degrees. It’s against the law to write a prescription for someone who hasn’t seen a doctor in person. Without a thorough physical examination, a doctor has no basis to make a diagnosis.
What Requirements Are There to Make Ordering Prescription Drugs Online Legal?
If certain requirements are followed, ordering your prescription medications online can be legal. Some of these requirements apply to you, while others apply to the online pharmacy.
The requirements made by you to ensure your purchase of online medications are legal includes:
- You have received a legitimate prescription from a real, in-person doctor
- You are trying to order from an online pharmacy that is housed within the United States
There are several things the pharmacy must do to be legal, also. The legal requirements of an online pharmacy include:
- The pharmacy must ask for a prescription
- The pharmacy must verify you have a patient relationship with the doctor writing the script
- The pharmacy must have a license in the state where it is physically located
- The pharmacy must allow all patients the ability to speak with a licensed pharmacist about questions or concerns they may have
- The prescription medications sold must be FDA-approved for dispensing within the USA
It is only when all the above requirements are met that it is legal to purchase medications from an online pharmacy. Failing to meet even one of these requirements can result in fines or even jail time.
How To Be Sure Online Pharmacies Are Legitimate
There are a lot of scam pharmacies set up to distribute online. Often, these fake online pharmacies are peddling medications that aren’t what they say they are. Sometimes the medications are off-brands created by individuals with no degree in pharmaceuticals.
Even worse, some fake pharmacies offer placebo medications they know don’t work. Some of them are created using harmful substances. Just a few substances that have been found in these fake medications include fentanyl, floor wax, arsenic, and paint.
To ensure an online pharmacy is a legitimate company, you should first make sure they’ve met the requirements listed in the section above. One example of a legitimate online pharmacy is CanDrugStore.
You will also want to look on their website for a red and blue symbol from VIPPS. This is the Verified Internet Pharmacy Practices Site badge that tells you the pharmacy has met strict qualifications.
You should cross-reference the pharmacy you want to use on LegitScript. This is an ongoing database of verified pharmacies. If the online pharmacy has both the badge and is listed on the database, you know they’re legitimate.
Ordering From International Online Pharmacies
It is almost always illegal to purchase prescription medications from outside the United States. This is because the medications are not regulated or approved by the Federal Drug Administration (FDA). Due to this, you can’t be certain the medications are safe.
There are very few exceptions to this rule. People can order from international online pharmacies ONLY if all the qualifications below are met.
- The prescription medication ordered isn’t yet available in the United States
- The medication prescribed is to treat a serious condition for which there are no domestic alternatives
- The amount being imported at any given time is three months or less
- The drug must be declared at US customers with the appropriate prescription and/or other necessary paperwork
If you fail to meet any of these guidelines, ordering from an international online pharmacy is illegal. Depending on the types of medications being imported, you could end up with felony charges.
What Can Happen If Purchasing From Illegal or Fake Pharmacy?
It is incredibly dangerous to order from a pharmacy that is fake or operating under illegal conditions. Just a few of the things that might happen if you purchase from one of these impostor pharmacies are listed below.
- You could receive medication that does not treat your disease
- You could receive medication that contains harmful ingredients which may make you ill
- You might never receive any medications at all, even after paying
- Your credit card or health insurance information might be stolen
- You could be arrested and charged with fines, jail time, or both
These serious issues are just a few of the most common consequences of purchasing from an illegal or fake online pharmacy.
For More Information
It is illegal to order prescription drugs online without doctor help. It can be legal to order drugs online if the proper requirements are met. For more information on online pharmacies or prescription drugs, check out our other blogs.