Purchasing medicine online has become a common occurrence in today’s pharmaceutical circles. It is not just in one country either – many people have found that the advantages and benefits outweigh the risks that may come from buying through an online pharmacy.

However, it’s important that you not only as a consumer but as a patient weigh the advantages and disadvantages of purchasing a product like medicine online. Doing this will give you a clearer vision of what will work for you. To that end, here are the risks and advantages of using an online pharmacy.


Lower prices. Finding a deal online is one of the biggest reasons that people shop for medication online. People can find lower prices on drugs coming from other countries, or they find the generic version of what they are looking for. A lot of the time, people can find exactly what they’re looking for but at a lower cost thanks to the fact that online pharmacies don’t have to deal with overhead costs. The easy access to online pharmacies means that you can quickly find the lowest prices possible.

Privacy/Anonymity. For some, going to the doctors is their worst nightmare. They would much rather not have to talk to someone in person about their health issues. Online pharmacies give you the option to do that and, sometimes, grant you prescriptions for certain issues online or over the phone. To be safe, you do want to ensure that any personal information you give away is not going to be used for unauthorised purposes.

Convenience. If you find that your workday is too busy, or you just don’t have the time or want to go into the pharmacy to pick up your prescription, then online pharmacies are a great convenience for you. They help you avoid travel and can save you money on gas. Some e-pharmacies even remind you when you need a refill.

Medical information. You can find some virtual pharmacies with a lot of useful medical information on them. They can give you information about different diseases and other medication as well as provide you with links to resources such as health association, government agencies, and universities.


Some don’t dispense drugs through licensed pharmacies. Online pharmacies that have been properly inspected, licensed, and regulated are required to have the oversight of a licensed pharmacist and to follow safe dispensing practices. But if you purchase from an unlicensed pharmacy, you are running the risk of buying adulterated, counterfeit, or substandard products. For some countries, buying a medication internationally is illegal.

Some online pharmacies don’t care about your health. There are many pharmacies that are illegitimate and are just looking to make quick money. If they don’t ask for a prescription, the medicine you are given may not be right for you or could be a counterfeit or expired.

Some don’t adequately protect your personal and financial information. Online pharmacies should have their privacy policy available and easy to find. It’s important because you know that they’re not going to share your personal information with third parties. When you’re checking out, your transactions should be secured using good encryption technology.

Some do not have their address, email, or telephone number on display. Online pharmacies that do not have their contact information available shouldn’t be trusted. They’re more likely to sell expired, substandard, or counterfeit drugs. Having their address allows you to check to see if they have a physical location. Having their telephone number or even email allows you to call them if you have any concerns, complaints, or questions.

Additional fees are typically added to the drug price. When you’re working with an online pharmacy, you risk having to pay for fees you wouldn’t if you walked in a pharmacy. These fees can be for shipping or a fee to set up an account or a medical fee. Luckily, it’s not a common practice among e-pharmacies. You can do some research to see if a virtual pharmacy has these types of fees.

Prices can change quickly. There are some online pharmacies that list drugs at cheap prices to attract people, and they then raise the prices. Overall, be wary of prices that are too good to be true because they often are.

About Adam FoxDr Adam Fox is one of only a handful of UK doctors with recognised higher specialist training in Paediatric Allergy. He is a consultant and joint clinical lead at Guy's & St Thomas' Hospitals – the UK's largest specialist children's allergy centre. He has extensive experience in the management of food allergy, eczema, asthma, rhinitis (hayfever) and conjunctivitis as well as drug and insect sting allergy.

He also runs the largest allergen desensitisation programme in the UK and is actively involved in cutting edge research in desensitisation, asthma prevention and food allergy. Adam was included in The Times magazine list of Britain’s 100 Top Children’s Doctors (2012) and is listed in Tatler’s 2013 Guide as one of the UK’s Top 250 Specialists. He was awarded 'Paediatric Allergist of the Year' (2007) by Allergy UK. He is secretary of the British Society of Allergy & Clinical Immunology and lectures widely nationally and internationally.
Adam Fox Facebook Adam Fox Google Plus Adam Fox Twitter Adam Fox Medium Adam Fox Wordpress Adam Fox Blogger