The internet is a convenient option for purchasing many necessities, but can you fill your prescriptions online? In many cases, yes. There are generally two ways to fill a prescription online:
- Use an online pharmacy or mail-order pharmacy to fill your prescription; the pharmacy then mails you the prescribed medications.
- Use the patient portal on your pharmacy’s website to request an Rx refill online, and then pick up your medicine in person.
How Online and Mail-Order Pharmacies Work
An online or mail-order pharmacy allows you to order your medications over the internet (or by phone) and have them mailed directly to you. This is a convenient option but there are some drawbacks. Your medications take longer to arrive so you want to be sure you keep up with your refills. Some, but not all, online pharmacies have automatic refills available.
Is It Safe to Buy Medication Online?
There are legitimate online pharmacies, and it is generally safe to use them. However, there are also several safety risks with online pharmacies. You may come across unethical companies that operate in a risky or even illegal manner. They may sell you counterfeit medications, drugs that aren’t FDA-approved, or medication that is expired or defective.
Unreputable online pharmacies may even sell Rx meds to people who don’t have a prescription. Be especially careful with international pharmacies. There are strict federal laws against importing certain substances from a foreign country.
How to Protect Yourself When Using Online Pharmacies
To protect yourself, watch out for these red flags.
- Lack of contact information. Always check the website for contact information and verify that there is a U.S. address and valid phone number listed. Try calling the number to see if it is legitimate.
- Availability of drugs without a prescription. If the pharmacy does not require a prescription to complete your transaction, or it advertises that you can obtain drugs without a prescription, do not go through with your order.
- Drugs that are not FDA-approved. If you see any drugs that haven’t been approved by the FDA, stay away from the pharmacy.
- No pharmacist available to answer questions. A reputable pharmacy will employ one or more licensed pharmacists to answer your questions.
- Lack of a valid U.S. license. The National Association of Boards of Pharmacy (NAPB) verifies online pharmacies that are properly licensed. Look for a VIPPS (Verified Internet Pharmacy Practice Sites) seal and a “.pharmacy” website domain.
Do Online Pharmacies Save You Money?
Many people turn to online pharmacies to save money. Some legitimate online pharmacies offer discounted prices on medications, but many cut corners to offer discounts. The drugs may not be properly manufactured and as a result, may be too strong or too weak.
Rather than focusing only on price, you should focus first on safety. Once you have a list of reputable online pharmacies, then you can compare pricing.
Some online or mail-order pharmacies allow you to use discount drug programs when ordering your medication. Call or chat with a customer support representative and see if they accept any savings programs. For example, PillPack and Health Warehouse accept the ScriptSave WellRx prescription discount card.
Online Patient Portals
Online patient portals are offered through a traditional brick-and-mortar pharmacy like Walmart or CVS. These online portals offer a convenient way to request Rx refills from your home, office, school, etc. Once your prescription is filled, you must go to the pharmacy in-person to pick up your medication.
Patients can still use a pharmacy discount card with these portals. Simply bring your card or mobile app with you to the pharmacy when picking up your medications.
Rx Savings On The Go
ScriptSave WellRx is dedicated to negotiating discounted prices on as many medications and at as many pharmacies as possible. If you’re struggling to afford your medication, try downloading our mobile app. It allows you to search and compare drug prices to find the best discount in your area.