5 Signs of a Suspect Internet Pharmacy

An e-pharmacy may be suspect if it:

  • Dispenses prescription medications without requiring the consumer to mail in a prescription, and if it dispenses prescription medications and does not contact the patient’s prescriber to obtain a valid verbal prescription.
  • Dispenses prescription medications solely based upon the consumer completing an online questionnaire, without the consumer having a pre-existing relationship with a prescriber and the benefit of an in-person physical examination. State boards of pharmacy, boards of medicine, the Food and Drug Administration, and the Chicago-based American Medical Association condemn this practice and consider it to be unprofessional.
  • Does not have a toll-free phone number as well as a street address posted on its site. If the pharmacy only has an e-mail feature as the sole means of communication between the consumer and the pharmacy, it is a suspect site.
  • Does not allow consumers to contact the pharmacist if they have questions about their medications. If a site does not advertise the availability of pharmacists for medication consultation, it should be avoided.
  • Only sells a limited number of medications, particularly lifestyle medications that treat such conditions and diseases as impotence, obesity, herpes, pain, and acne. Although pharmacies may not sell every medication available in the United States, on-line pharmacies selling only lifestyle medications may not be operating legitimately.

Source: Adapted from the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy’s "Verified Internet Pharmacy Practice Sites: Most Frequently Asked Questions." Web site: www.nabp.net/vipps/consumer/faq.asp.