Intro To Ordering Prescription Medication from Online Pharmacies

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In the current economy, people are looking for any way they can to save money on life’s necessities. Families are cutting extracurricular activities and buying unbranded at the grocery store, but one product that continues to pose a problem for people on a budget is prescription medication.

For people without prescription drug coverage, those in the so-called “doughnut hole” of Medicare coverage (in which coverage is temporarily suspended until the recipient has paid a certain portion of their drug costs out of pocket), and those who require medications that aren’t covered by their current plan, accessing these medications may prove challenging and lead to difficult budget decisions.

The fact is, when it comes down to either paying the electric bill or purchasing prescription medications, many people choose to cut costs on their medications. This leads to problems with medication compliance and can cause additional unintentional and even dangerous consequences.

For example, using less of a medication prescribed to regulate your heart rate may lead to rapid heartbeat or palpitations. Skipping doses of a medication designed to keep a diabetic’s blood sugar in check may cause uncontrollable rises in blood sugar and the associated symptoms. “Saving” antibiotics instead of finishing the course can lead to drug-resistant bacteria and future dangerous infections. In the long run, your additional visits to the doctor’s office and the emergency room as a result of an attempt to save money could cost you much more that you ever hoped to save.

Why Are Prescription Drugs So Expensive?

It’s difficult to save money on medications at U.S. brick-and-mortar and online pharmacies. The pharmacies not only have to pay all their staff and the overhead costs of the location, they also have to pay the high wholesale costs to American drug manufacturers and distributors. Wholesale prices on prescription medications in the U.S. continue to climb, and regulations that exist in other countries to keep drug prices low don’t exist in the U.S. The drug industry has a powerful lobby, and an overall general resistance to price control allows drug prices to rise with no end in sight. When the U.S. Congress passed an act to reform Medicare in 2004, a section was dedicated to prohibiting the government from stepping in and negotiating lower drug prices.

These higher prices get passed on to you — the consumer — simply so the pharmacies can stay in business

Insurance companies are also common culprits when it comes to higher drug prices at American pharmacies. The insurance plans set a predetermined price that they will pay for each medication regardless of the actual cost of the medication. This price is often less than what a cash-paying customer pays, and, sometimes, the pharmacy actually loses money when filling prescriptions for customers with insurance coverage. They must make up for this by increasing the retail price of the medications — a practice that hits cash-paying customers the hardest.

Why do pharmacies go along with this? They must accept the terms of the insurance company in order to do business with them, and if a pharmacy loses a contract with an insurance company, they run the risk of losing their clientele and money. Unfortunately, the only parties that really benefit from this scenario are the drug manufacturers and the insurance companies.

Saving Money at Your Local Pharmacy

It is possible to save money when doing business with your local pharmacies, but you may have to do some legwork, and your savings may not be as substantial as you would like. Some of the available options include:

  • Calling around to different pharmacies to compare prices.
  • Doing business with pharmacies that price match against their competitors.
  • Choosing generic medications whenever possible.
  • Finding pharmacies that offer certain generic medications in three-month supplies for a low price.
  • Contacting your drug manufacturer to see if you are eligible for coupons and discounts.
  • Filling your prescriptions at pharmacies associated with club stores such as Costco or Sam’s Club. These pharmacies typically offer a lower retail price than grocery store or chain pharmacies.

What if you’ve already tried these methods and your prescription bill is still too high? It might be time to consider online pharmacies.

The Risks and Benefits of Online Pharmacies

Online pharmacies, particularly international online pharmacies, offer opportunities for substantial savings on prescription medications. Why is this?

For one thing, online pharmacies often have a lower overhead. Pharmacists and technicians work together to fill prescriptions in a setting similar to your local drugstore but without a front counter and drive-thru window. Since interruptions are few, the prescriptions can be filled and checked at a faster rate. Patient counseling is done by a dedicated group of pharmacists and physicians, so the pharmacist in charge of checking medications can work uninterrupted, which means that a larger volume of medications can be processed.

Often, generic versions of medications are available through international pharmacies before they are available through American pharmacies.
International pharmacies can purchase medications from the wholesaler at international prices, which are usually considerably lower than the prices that American pharmacies have to pay. For this reason, medications purchased through international online pharmacies can cost half as much — sometimes even less — than the same medications would cost at an American pharmacy.

Are there any downsides to purchasing medications online? There are a few. You will need to do your research and make sure that you are purchasing your medications through a reputable pharmacy. Unfortunately, many “online pharmacies” are fly-by-night operations looking to make a quick buck selling expired or even counterfeit medications to unsuspecting patients who are looking to simply save money on prescription medications.

Disreputable online pharmacies may also offer to sell potentially dangerous medications — including narcotics — online without a prescription. This opens patients up to the risk of dangerous drug interactions and even overdose. Never do business with a pharmacy that offers to sell you medication without a prescription. Not only is this practice highly illegal, it’s also extremely dangerous. Keep in mind that Google and other search engines are neutral parties and do not filter their results. Just because you find an online pharmacy through a reputable search engine does not mean that they are a reputable business, so you’ll need to take the initiative to check them out. Also this might sound like a daunting task, it isn’t. This guide will provide you with the information you need to determine whether an online pharmacy is reputable or not.

Any time you conduct business over the Internet, you run the risk of your personal information being compromised. This guide will give you step-by-step directions you can use to prevent that from happening. Both the U.S. and Canada have laws in place requiring pharmacies and other healthcare providers to protect your personal health information. In the U.S., this law is called HIPAA, which stands for the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, and in Canada, the law is called PIPEDA, which stands for Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act. Both laws are very specific as to how and when personal health information should be protected and how and when it is allowed to be shared. Doing business with a “rogue” pharmacy not only puts you under the risk of having your personal health information compromised, but you may also be running a risk of having your credit card and other identifying information stolen.