What to know about online pharmacies

Not all online pharmacies are safe for purchasing medications. To help consumers, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration initiated a website about fake online pharmacies called FDA BeSafeRx - Know Your Online Pharmacy. Learn about the risks involved with buying prescribed drugs from fake pharmacies, and how to locate reputable pharmacies when purchasing medications online. 

Accreditation of Pharmacy Websites

According to the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy (NABP), only 4 percent of the 11,000 online drug outlets reviewed were compliant with U.S. laws. The VIPPS Online Pharmacy certificate will ensure that the dispensed medications are in compliance with U.S. federal and state laws and regulations. The link leads to NABP's listing of online pharmacies that are VIPPS certified.The Partnership for Safe Medications provided this video describing VIPPS certification. 

In order to combat the thousands of websites selling counterfeit prescription drugs, the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy (NABP) has created a program for global consumers to purchase prescription medications that are safe and legitimate. NABP has worked with stakeholders in the pharmacy community and developed the .pharmacy domain name (as opposed to the .com domain).  To obtain the .pharmacy domain, registrants must meet regulatory standards, including pharmacy licensure and valid prescription requirements in the jurisdictions where they are based. The www.safe.pharmacy website provides a listing of pharmacies and other resources that have earned the .pharmacy domain name.

Drug Information Sites

The Drug Information Portal, powered by the U.S. National Library of Medicine, provides access to over 66,000 drugs. Medications can be searched by brand name or generic, and results include a summary of the drug’s type and usage. Additional information can be found within the selected drug’s category, providing access to other drugs with the same or similar uses.

DailyMed is the official provider of FDA label information (package inserts). This website provides comprehensive resources on prescription drug information and labeling, the same information found in package inserts supplied by manufacturers.

Drugs.com is self-described as the most widely visited medical information website with reliable data on more than 24,000 medical treatments including prescription drugs, over-the-counter medicines, and natural products. Drugs.com utilizes data from several medical information suppliers, health publications, and medical dictionaries. The site is certified as compliant with the HONcode, meeting HONcode’s ethical guidelines for providing quality, objective, and transparent medical information (last verified in August, 2016). For more information on the HONcode, visit Health On the Net Foundation website.

HONcode verified: August, 2016

RxList provides information on brand-name medications along with generic formulations. RxList, which is part of WebMD, includes articles written by pharmacists and physicians. The site is certified as compliant with the HONcode, meeting ethical guidelines for providing quality, objective, and transparent medical information. For more information on the HONcode, visit Health On the Net Foundation website.

HONcode verified: August, 2016

Iodine provides clinical research and patient experiences about numerous common prescription drugs. Visitors can compare different medical treatments and read about patient drug experiences including effectiveness and side effects. The site is certified by the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy (NABP) e-Advertiser Approval Program. For more information on the program, visit the NABP website.

NABP  e-Advertiser Approval Program verified: August, 2016

RxWiki provides a "medication encyclopedia" that is written, edited, and published by licensed pharmacists. Brief videos describe medications, how they work, and potential side effects. The site also provides a pill identifier, links to patient-assistance websites, and blogs about medications and conditions, . Finally, the site is certified as compliant with the HONcode, meeting HONcode’s ethical guidelines for providing quality, objective, and transparent medical information. For more information on the HONcode, visit Health On the Net Foundation website.

HONcode verified: August, 2016