Is ordering medicines online safe for


Is ordering medicines online safe for you and your family? Today, you can order just about anything online and have it delivered to your doorstep. The Internet makes it easy to shop around for the lowest priced item. So, searching for low cost medicines online is no exception. However, there are some dangers with purchasing medicines online. For example, Internet pharmacy sites that say “no prescription needed,” should not be used. Also, some medicines sold online:

• Are fake
• Have ingredients that could hurt you
• Are too strong or too weak
• Are too old to work
• Are not approved by the Food and
• Drug Administration (FDA)
• Are not made using safe standards
• Are not safe to use with other medicines,
• herbal products, or vitamins you use
• Are not labeled or are labeled incorrectly
• Are not stored or shipped the right way.

There is a certification provided by the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy (NABP) in the United States to online pharmacy websites called the Verified Internet Pharmacy Practice Sites (VIPPS). (There is a similar certification in Canada through the Canadian International Pharmacy Association [CIPA].) To be a VIPPS-certified site, a pharmacy must comply with the licensing and inspection requirements of each state to which they send medicines. In addition, pharmacies with a seal of approval from VIPPS (Figure 1) must demonstrate that they are complying with your rights to privacy, security, accuracy, and provide meaningful information from the pharmacist. The pharmacy
site will probably not protect your personal information, such as your credit card number, if it is not VIPPS-certified.

Figure 1. VIPPS seal of approval.

Here’s what you can do:

Before you place an order, make sure the service you’re using is VIPPS-certified. Look for the VIPPS seal of approval and click on it. By clicking on the seal, you are linked to the NABP VIPPS site where verified information about the pharmacy is maintained by NABP. You can also access the VIPPS site at accreditation/vipps/find-a-vipps-onlinepharmacy/ to search for a VIPPS-certified Internet pharmacy to meet your needs. You can check sites when ordering medicines for your pets as well by making sure the site is Vet-VIPPS-certified. You’ll be protecting yourself, your family, and your pets.

Created on January 1, 2010

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