Online and mail-order pharmacies: How to be safe

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By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland

PHOENIX -- People get deals on everything online -- shoes, travel, appliances. Why not prescription drugs?

You can find lower prices and convenience through mail-order or online pharmacies. Just be careful.

“Rogue” pharmacies use the Internet to market counterfeit drugs. You could end up with something that doesn’t treat your condition and could harm your health.

Many insurers and some retail pharmacies now offer drugs by mail-order. Companies ship prescribed drugs to your home so you don’t have to pick them up in person. Often you can get a three-month supply at a reduced cost.

4 signs of a legitimate pharmacy web site:

  • U.S. location and license. There are a lot of legitimate mail-order pharmacies in this country.
  • Verified Pharmacy Practice Site. You can look up VIPPS-accredited pharmacies on the NABP website.
  • Prescription required. Any trustworthy pharmacy will insist on a prescription from a health-care provider who has seen you in person. That doctor can monitor you for any side effects from the drug. Some side effects are so subtle you won’t be aware of them.
  • Real people on the phone. You should be able to talk with a human being, including a licensed pharmacist.

4 red flags of a rogue pharmacy

  • No prescription required.
  • Location unknown. If you don’t know where a pharmacy operates, you don’t know what regulations it follows, if any.
  • Lowest prices. Unregulated pharmacies can avoid the costs of watching out for your safety. People who ordered online for anxiety, depression, and insomnia received a strong antipsychotic instead.
  • Viagra in your Email! When purchasing drugs online, take a “don’t call me, I’ll call you,” position. Chances are the email clogging your inbox came from hackers trying to get access to your personal data.

Purchasing drugs through mail-order or online may save you money.

Faster. If you get a new prescription and need it filled that day, you can walk into a pharmacy and get it taken care of. You need to wait three days for a drug to be delivered to your door.

Discounts. These days, may retail pharmacies have responded to mail order offers with deal of their own.

Face Time. Some pharmacists have patients; others have customers.

Dr. Art Mollen's practice is located at 16100 N. 71st St. in Scottsdale. For more information, call 480-656-0016 or log on to