Check the URL (website address). When you click on the name of a pharmacy in your search results, does the same name appear in the address bar on your browser? If not be very wary.
Does the online pharmacy have a physical address? Does this place actually exist? In most countries where online pharmacy is legal, the existence of a bricks and mortar pharmacy is a requirement. Where is this pharmacy? Does it profess to be in, for example, the UK? If so, why not use Google Maps or Streetview to see if you can see it? Try the telephone number (if there is one). Is it answered? If so, does the respondent answer using the name of the pharmacy, or some general greeting?
Is it registered with the National Competent Authority? If it seems to be, be sure to check whether the registration is genuine by examining the NCA’s own listings. Registrations have been faked in the past.
Who is the pharmacist? Most countries require a named pharmacist to be associated with the website, and named on it. You can also check this person’s registration.
Does the online pharmacy require a valid prescription? If, instead, it offers an “online consultation” (which is only legal in some countries) what steps are taken to ensure that the medicine is right for you (pharmacists are required to carry out such checks)?
Product information. Does the website offer you patient information on how to store and take the medicine, side effects or interactions, or how to dispose of unused medicines?
BOGOF!! Common sense would probably dictate that if a website offers a BOGOF (buy-one-get-one-free) or mix-n-match schemes, it is probably not a legitimate pharmacy.
Be a smart buyer. ASOP EU’s partner, the Alliance for Access to Safe Medicines (EAASM), carried out a patient safety audit of online pharmacies in five EU Member States. If you live in the UK, Germany, France, Italy or Spain, see how your country fared.
Online pharmacies are not all operated by criminals! If you are satisfied you have found a good online source for your medicine and decide to go ahead and order, it’s important that you continue to be vigilant once it arrives. Follow our list of “Top Tips” to make sure that the package that arrives contains genuine and safe medicine.
Outside of Europe, you can find extra tips from the Partnership for Safe Medicine, to help you stay safe, by clicking here.