Buying Prescription Medicine Online: A Consumer
Buying your medicine online can be easy.
Just make sure you do it safely.
The Internet has changed the way we live, work and
shop. The growth of the Internet has made it possible to compare
prices and buy products without ever leaving home. But when it comes
to buying medicine online, it is important to be very careful. Some
websites sell medicine that may not be safe to use and could put your
health at risk.
Some websites that sell medicine:
- arenít U.S. state-licensed pharmacies or arenít pharmacies at
- may give a diagnosis that is not correct and sell medicine that
is not right for you or your condition
- wonít protect your personal information
Some medicines sold online:
- are fake (counterfeit or "copycat" medicines)
- are too strong or too weak
- have dangerous ingredients
- have expired (are out-of-date)
- arenít FDA-approved (haven't been checked for safety and
- arenít made using safe standards
- arenít safe to use with other medicine or products you use
- arenít labeled, stored, or shipped correctly
MEET AND TALK WITH YOUR DOCTOR
- Talk with your doctor and have a physical exam before you get
any new medicine for the first time.
- Use ONLY medicine that has been prescribed by your doctor or
another trusted professional who is licensed in the U.S. to write
prescriptions for medicine.
- Ask your doctor if there are any special steps you need to take
to fill your prescription.
These tips will help protect you
if you buy medicines online:
KNOW YOUR SOURCE to make sure itís safe
Make sure a website is a state-licensed pharmacy that
is located in the United States. Pharmacies and pharmacists in the
United States are licensed by a state's board of pharmacy. Your state
board of pharmacy can tell you if a website is a state-licensed
pharmacy, is in good standing, and is located in the United States.
Find a list of state boards of pharmacy on the National Association of
Boards of Pharmacy (NABP) website at
The NABP is a professional association of the state
boards of pharmacy. It has a program to help you find some of the
pharmacies that are licensed to sell medicine online. Internet
websites that display the seal of this program have been checked to
make sure they meet state and federal rules. For more on this program
and a list of pharmacies that display the Verified Internet Pharmacy
Practice Sitesô Seal, (VIPPSģ
Seal), go to
Look for websites with practices that protect you
A safe website should:
- be located in the United States and licensed by the state board
of pharmacy where the website is operating (check
for a list of state boards of pharmacy)
- have a licensed pharmacist to answer your questions
- require a prescription from your doctor or other health care
professional who is licensed in the United States to write
prescriptions for medicine
- have a way for you to talk to a person if you have problems
BE SURE YOUR PRIVACY IS PROTECTED
Look for privacy and security policies that are
easy-to-find and easy-to-understand.
Donít give any personal information (such as social
security number, credit card, or medical or health history), unless
you are sure the website will keep your information safe and private.
Make sure that the site will not sell your
information, unless you agree.
PROTECT YOURSELF AND OTHERS
Report websites you are not sure of, or if you have
complaints about a site.
www.fda.gov/buyonline and click on "Notify FDA about problem
For more information on buying medicines and medical
products over the Internet, go to
click on "Buying Medicines Online," or go directly to
www.fda.gov/buyonline. For related information, go to:
www.fda.gov/importeddrugs Counterfeit medicine
www.fda.gov/counterfeit Generic drugs
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services | Food
and Drug Administration
In cooperation with the
National Council on Patient Information and Education