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Advantages and Disadvantages of Mail Order Pharmacy

November 15, 2019
Advantages and Disadvantages of Mail Order Pharmacy

When you’re in pain or chronically ill, the last thing you want to do is get in the car and drive to the local drug store. Convenience is one reason that people are turning to mail-order pharmacies, but it’s not the only one. If you’re considering going the mail-order route, here are the benefits and a few drawbacks to consider.

Mail Order Pharmacies Vs. Discount

First, let’s clarify what an online pharmacy is and how it works. These aren’t the same as discount drug stores, or generic health and beauty websites.

Online pharmacies that offer prescriptions through the mail are licensed pharmacies that have to follow the rules and laws of the countries in which they’re located. That means any medications you need a prescription to fill in a brick-and-mortar store you will still need to have prescribed by your doctor.

However, there are several advantages to using mail-order services rather than going to the corner drug store.

You’ll have more options. One of the best things about online shopping is that you’re not limited by your physical location. If you’re having trouble finding a drug store that stocks a specific medication, you can browse for it on another website. Just keep track of where you’re getting each prescription filled and when.

You get a decent discount. Cost savings are another reason to use a mail-order pharmacy. Many offer discounts for new customers and other incentives. You also save money on gas when you can wait at home.

They’re open 24/7. If you’ve ever had to beat the clock to get to a shop before it closes, you know the struggle. With a mail-order pharmacy, you’ll get 24/7/365 access.

As cheap and convenient as it is to get your medications online, there are a few disadvantages that you should be aware of first.

Your delivery may be affected by delays. We’ve all had the experience of searching the mail every day for an important package or letter only to find that it has been misdirected or lost. This can be especially harrowing, even deadly when critical meds never arrive. There’s the chance that they’ve fallen into the wrong hands, that your condition could worsen, or that there will be an additional delay if the prescription needs to be dispensed again.

Avoid this problem by verifying all of your information before checkout.

You may be waiting longer for your meds. Even if your prescription isn’t lost or sent to the wrong address, you’re still going to be at the mercy of the mail delivery system in your area. Some online pharmacies offer overnight or priority shipping, but that could still mean at least 24 hours from their warehouse to your doorstep.

Don’t wait until the last minute to request a refill, and consider filling any critical prescriptions in person.

No personal interaction with a pharmacist. Do you enjoy one-on-one, personal service? This is one of the niceties of life that you will have to give up when using a mail-order service. Although the best of them offer great customer support, you still won’t get personal advice and guidance about your meds or health issues.

Final Thoughts

It’s estimated that about 20 percent of patients receive their medications through a mail-order pharmacy. That number is sure to grow as regulations change and more licensed pharmacists establish an online presence.

Convenience is a big factor for online shopping in general, but there are some caveats when ordering your medications online. If you’re filling some of your prescriptions in person at a physical location and others online, make sure that you inform each pharmacist of other medications that you’re taking. You should also choose a reputable, licensed operation to make sure that the drugs you order are the ones you receive.

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