Online Pharmacies – Advantages and Disadvantages


There are a great number of online pharmacies available these days, some are legitimate but many others are not. Some are online versions of high-street stores, some from large national chains, other independent businesses. Many specialist pharmacies have sprung up to meet particular medical needs and some are partnerships among a few pharmacy businesses. However, there are many more which would fall into the category of a scam online pharmacy.

Whichever of these categories a particular pharmacy falls into, they all meet a need people have to buy cheaper medications in an easy way. The results and the products you receive from ordering from an online pharmacy is going to vary greatly depending on which website you use, however.

Popularity of Online Drugstores

So why is it that online pharmacies are increasingly more popular? They provide customers better access to better priced medications than many people can find in the world. This is particularly the case with countries like the USA which suffer notoriously high medication prices.

money and pillsThere is also the benefit of having the pills delivered to your front door, without the need to stand in line in your neighborhood drugstore. This is especially important if you have any mobility issues or you live a distance from your nearest pharmacy.

Online drugstores can provide refill reminders and more details about your medications as well. Giving patients more access to details about adverse effects and alternative medicines. Discounts are often readily available and easier to manage.

For all these reasons, it is easy to believe the service and the pills you get when shopping online is going to be the same as you would get from your local pharmacy. If you are using a legitimate drugstore, this is probably true. Many online stores aren’t as legit as they may appear and the pills you get aren’t going to be what you expect.


Doctor Consultations

online consultationsMany online pharmacies provide access to a doctor who will check your information through a questionnaire or VOIP chat or video conferencing. While this is often a good indication of a pharmacy which is doing things in the right way, it isn’t always the case.

Some scam pharmacies get their customers to fill out questionnaires so that they appear to be legit. They claim that this is looked at by a doctor, but in reality, none of this happens. This lack of physical patient evaluation could lead to significant problems for the customer of the store. There is always a risk of unfortunate drug interactions with other medications which are being taken.

Many of the drugs which are sold online originate from Indian manufacturers and are dispensed from there as well.


Indian Generic Drugs

producingIn the early 1960s, the Indian Government realized they had a growing problem with supplying medicine to their ever increasing population. To solve this issue they decided to essentially ignore the norms of patent law shortening the time which patents would be observed in India.

Indian companies took this opportunity to reverse engineer medications and create new processes to produce pills which were still within patents in other countries. India has since fallen in line with the established worldwide patent regulations but it has left the country with a significant generic drug manufacturing base.


Indian Pharmacy Laws

The sale of prescription meds in India does require patients to present a valid prescription from an Indian doctor. The laws for selling drugs online are less well defined or enforced, however. They have the Drugs and Cosmetics Act of 1940, the Drugs and Cosmetic Rules of 1945, the Information Technology Act of 2000, and the Cosmetics Act of 1956 to choose from.

Though, as you can imagine, a law created in 1940 or 1945 isn’t going to take into account the realities of the Internet or pharmacy reviews 2020. Such out of date legislation, is unlikely to protect anyone, let alone people living outside of India.

an Indian doctorSince Indian pharmacies are not allowed to sell without a valid prescription from an Indian doctor within the country, is it legal for them to do so for customers outside of India? They are likely able to get away with it since the rules are so behind the times that what they are doing is actually not covered by any laws.

Customers ordering from online pharmacies normally don’t even know that they are dealing with a business in India, let alone that they are doing is not covered by the law. They also aren’t going to appreciate the risks they are putting themselves at by ordering drugs in this way.

All too often the standards of manufacture in India fall below what would be acceptable in western countries. There have been many cases where it was found that the manufacturing process was compromised within even large and well-known Indian businesses.


Size of the Problem

Medication isn’t always dispatched from India, sometimes it is impossible to tell where the pills are going to be coming from before ordering. There are many online pharmacies like this, in fact, there are more high-risk scam pharmacies online than reliable legit stores.

There are tens of thousands of Internet pharmacies and the vast majority, perhaps as many as 95 percent according to the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy, are scam drugstores. If you are not paying attention or don’t check out the pharmacy you are using you are likely to be using one of the less reliable drugstores which plague the online space.



While online pharmacies are great for customers, this is only the case if what they are offering is reliable and safe. There is some regulation of online stores but this depends on where the pharmacy is located. As we have shown, there isn’t much in the way of a working regulation system for online pharmacies based in India and this is lacking for a lot of countries.

approvalThe USA has regulation from the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy through their VIPPS program. European based drugstores have some strict rules which require registration with a national government agency. They also require that the EU distance selling logo is displayed on every page which has medications for sale. This logo will link to the government database so you can make sure they are regulated. Individual countries within the EU may have additional rules on top of these to protect online shoppers as well.

The rules in Canada are not as stringent, with no government oversight for foreign medical sales. There are Canadian associations but they aren’t part of a government agency. Understandably, governments aren’t overly concerned about legislating for the selling of medications to people outside of their own country. This means that if you choose to purchase from a foreign pharmacy, wherever they are located, you could be putting yourself at risk.


Risks of Poor Quality Drugs

If you get pills from one of the many unreliable pharmacies, you have no way of knowing if what you have received is what it claims to be. You don’t know if the correct ingredients are contained in the pills or if it has the correct amounts of active ingredients. You can’t tell by just looking at the drugs either. They could come in packaging which looks like the genuine brand pills but if they are counterfeit it is difficult to tell they’re not legit.


Fake meds could also contain things you don’t expect. They could contain lead or other heavy metals as has been found in many counterfeit drugs seized by authorities. If you are relying on pills from unreliable sources, you are taking a huge chance. While their prices are going to be good, is it really worth the risk?

There is often a complete lack of any monitoring of online pharmacies or the drugs they sell. Customers of these pharmacies don’t realize that they are the guinea pigs and the pills aren’t produced or sold by pharmacies which are regulated.


Customer Precautions

To make sure you don’t fall victim to low-quality medications sold by unreliable stores you have to be more aware of the problem. Look to see if the store is regulated and that the organization they claim regulation from is genuine. Click on any seals they have on their site to see if they are valid. They should link to the regulatory association’s website and if they don’t this could be a problem. Doing this alone could be enough to prevent you from making a mistake with your online medical order, but sometimes it isn’t as obvious as that.

Does the pharmacy have a physical address? Is this a real address? We have often found unreliable drugstores with fake addresses or a real address where they aren’t actually located.

You can check our online pharmacy reviews 2020 to make sure the pharmacy you are about to purchase from is as trustworthy as they may appear. There are reliable pharmacies which will provide a good service at reasonable prices to be found online, even if distinguishing them from the scams isn’t always easy.

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