Take care when shopping for medicines online

Shopping for medicines online can be a convenient and cost-effective way to get your medications. However, you should keep a few things in mind to make sure that you are getting the best possible deal on your medications and, more importantly, ensuring your safety.

Similarly, if you can use a local pharmacy, that is possibly a better option. The old phrase ‘if you don’t use it, you’ll lose it’ comes to mind: if local pharmacies are not supported, they will disappear, and we’ll lose those wonderful resources that provide information and personal attention. But for many people, a trip to the local pharmacy isn’t so easy and purchasing your medications online is often a much easier option.

Online shopping has become increasingly popular, a trend that has certainly been exacerbated by COVID lockdowns over the past couple of years. But do remember that medicine shopping online is different from shopping for other items: you are potentially purchasing potent medications and you need to ensure you take appropriate precautions.

Here are five tips to keep in mind:

  1. Make Sure You Are Dealing With A Reputable Pharmacy

To ensure the quality of products and your safety, it is important to check that these websites are managed by reputable pharmacies that are registered with the General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC). The GPhC regulates pharmacists, pharmacy technicians and pharmacies in Great Britain  to protect the public and give them assurance that they will receive safe and effective care when using pharmacy services.

The Registered Phatacy logo shows that a pharmacy is registered with the GPhCWhen you order medicines online, a registered company should display the logo and registration number as per the example shown here. If you click the logo, it will take you to the appropriate page on the GPhC website to confirm registered details of the pharmacy.

As stressed on the NHS website:

Medicine from an unregistered website could also be dangerous to your health because it might be out of date, diluted or fake.

It is also important to remember that an online pharmacy must receive a legally valid prescription before dispensing prescription-only medications. Alternatively, some sites offer prescriber services, where you have an online consultation, and a prescription is then sent to a pharmacy for dispensing.

Reputable online pharmacies are always open and transparent, and you should easily be able to find full contact details including address, telephone number and email address. If these details are not readily available, treat this as a red flag!

  1. Compare Prices Between Different Websites

Don’t just assume that the first website you come across offers the best price on your medications. Take some time to compare prices as you may be surprised at how much prices can vary.

However, before you get excited by cheaper options, do always remember point one above! Many fly-by-night websites claim to sell medications at deeply discounted prices but if the website owner is not registered with the GPhC it is not safe to make that purchase. After all, your health is so much more important than saving just a few pounds, isn’t it?

There are also comparison websites available such as Pharmacy Prices which is extremely useful when shopping for medicines online as it helps you to compare prices of different pharmacies for a number of popular prescription medications online.

You should also remember to look for the shipping fees and other potential charges when comparing prices. Consider the total cost of the medications, not just the item price.

  1. Check Policies for Cancellations, Returns and Refunds

As mentioned at the beginning of this article, shopping for medications online is different from other online shopping!

Most retailers offer money-back guarantees so if you don’t like a product, you can return it.

However, medicinal products, even if the packs are unopened, cannot be returned and re-sold due to the legislation governing the sale and supply of medicines in the UK. If you have any unwanted or unused medication, you can take it to a local pharmacy, and they will dispose of the products safely. Products of a cosmetic or personal nature cannot be returned due to hygiene reasons.

But naturally, even with the best online pharmacies, genuine mistakes can happen. Do ensure, therefore, that the company has good refund policies in place to deal with items that are not as described, not fit for purpose, or damaged or faulty.

Also, ensure a cancellation policy is in place so if you change your mind and products have not been dispatched, you are able to cancel the order.

  1. Check Out the Information and Services Offered

Less reputable online pharmacies will probably have little more information on their websites than a shop with a list of products.

Conversely, reputable pharmacies will provide a wealth of information with possible options such as online clinics, an A-Z of treatments for different conditions, and possibly even a link to the NICE (National Institute for Health and Care Excellence) list of drugs which provides detailed information about every medical drug.

The website should also include detailed policies including data and payment security which includes their Data Registration Security details and Terms and Conditions

  1. Make Sure the Website Uses SSL Encryption

When you enter your personal and financial information on a website, you want to make sure that the site uses SSL encryption. This will ensure that your data is safe and secure. You can usually tell if a website uses SSL encryption if the URL starts with https:// rather than http://.

Never ignore this step, as it is one of the most important things to look for when shopping for medications online or, indeed, when purchasing any products online. Dozens of websites claim to be reputable but do not use SSL encryption, which means that your information could be at risk if you enter it on these sites.

In Conclusion

Shopping for medicines online can be a great way to save money. However, you need to be careful and ensure that you are only dealing with websites operated by reputable pharmacies. Be sure to look for the things on this list before making your purchase. This will help ensure that you get the best possible deal on your medications.

Source: healthylifeessex.co.uk

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