September 08, 2022

Are online pharmacies legitimate?

Dear Consumer Ed:

I can barely afford my monthly prescription medications. I’ve seen ads about online pharmacies that provide medications at a fraction of the price, but I don’t know how to tell if they are legitimate and safe to use. Please help.

Consumer Ed says:

Unfortunately, many advertised online pharmacies are illegitimate and not safe to use. Such online pharmacies may sell drugs that are expired, mislabeled, or potentially toxic, and may even use your payment and personal information for illegal purposes such as identity theft. If an online pharmacy's advertisement promises prescription medications at a fraction of the price, that may be a warning sign that the online pharmacy is illegitimate. We recommend you check the U.S. Food & Drug Administration’s regularly updated list of illegally-operating online pharmacies to see whether any online pharmacies you are considering getting your prescriptions from are on there.

Even if an online pharmacy is not on the previously mentioned list, there are still other requirements an online pharmacy must meet to be considered trustworthy. As a general rule, a safe, legal online pharmacy will always be licensed. We recommend you check the Georgia Board of Pharmacy’s licensing website to verify whether an advertised pharmacy is licensed and authorized to send medications to Georgia consumers. A legal online pharmacy will also always require a doctor’s prescription, will have a physical address and phone number in the United States, and will have a state-licensed pharmacist available to answer patient questions. You can check the U.S. Federal Trade Commission’s website for further advice about buying health products and services online.

If you believe an advertisement promotes an illegally-operating online pharmacy, we recommend you submit a complaint to the Georgia Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division, to the Federal Trade Commission, or to the Food & Drug Administration.

Submit your own question to Consumer Ed.  Remember…we do not give legal advice. Always consult a lawyer about legal issues.

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