Online pharmacy Part of a series on Electronic commerce Online goods and services Streaming media Electronic books Software Retail services Banking Food ordering Online flower delivery Online pharmacy DVD-by-mail Travel Marketplace services Trading communities Auctions • Online wallet Advertising Price comparison service Social commerce Mobile commerce Payment · Ticketing Banking E-procurement Purchase-to-pay This box: view · talk · edit Online pharmacies, Internet pharmacies, or Mail Order Pharmacies are pharmacies that operate over the Internet and send the orders to customers. Online or internet pharmacies might include: Pharmacy benefit manager - A large administrator of corporate prescription drug plans Legitimate internet pharmacy in the same country as the person ordering. Legitimate internet pharmacy in a different country than the person ordering. This pharmacy usually is licensed by its home country and follows those regulations, not those of the international orders. Illegal or unethical internet pharmacy. The web page for an illegal pharmacy may contain lies about its home country, procedures, or certifications. The "pharmacy" may send outdated (expired shelf life ) or counterfeit medications and may not follow normal procedural safeguards. Contents 1 Home delivery 2 Risks and concerns 3 Discussion 4 International consumers 5 U.S. consumers 5.1 Overseas online pharmacies and U.S. law 5.1.1 Enforcement 6 UK consumers 7 Related topics 8 References 9 External links Home delivery Conventional stationary pharmacies usually have controlled distribution systems from the manufacturer. Validation (drug manufacture) and Good distribution practices are followed. Home delivery of pharmaceuticals can be a desirable convenience but sometimes there can be problems. The shipment of drugs through the mail and parcel post is sometimes a concern for temperature-sensitive pharmaceuticals. Uncontrolled shipping conditions can include high and low temperatures outside of the listed storage conditions for a drug. For example, the US FDA found the temperature in a mail box in the sun could reach 136°F (58°C) while the ambient air temperature was 101°F (38°C) Shipment by express mail and couriers reduces transit time and often involves delivery to the door, rather than a mail box. The use of insulated shipping containers also helps control drug temperatures, reducing risks to drug safety and efficacy. Risks and concerns Illegal or unethical pharmacies sometimes send outdated, substituted, or counterfeit medications Sometimes an online pharmacy may not be located in the country that is claimed. For example, one study of drug shipments claiming to be from Canada revealed many actually originated in several different countries and were often bogus medications Minors or children can order controlled substances without adult supervision. Other concerns include potential lack of confidentiality, improper packaging, inability to check for drug interactions, and several other issues. Discussion Legitimate mail-order pharmacies are somewhat similar to community pharmacies; one primary difference is the method by which the medications are requested and received. Some customers consider this to be more convenient than traveling to a community drugstore, in the same way as ordering goods online rather than going to a shop. While many internet pharmacies sell prescription drugs only with a prescription, some do not require a pre-written prescription. In some countries, this is because prescriptions are not required. Some customers order drugs from such pharmacies to avoid the inconvenience of visiting a doctor or to obtain medications their doctors were unwilling to prescribe. People living in the United States and other countries where prescription medications are very expensive may turn to online pharmacies to save money. Many of the reputable websites employ their own in-house physicians to review the medication request and write a prescription accordingly. Some websites offer medications without a prescription or a doctor review. This practice has been criticized as potentially dangerous, especially by those who feel that only doctors can reliably assess contraindications, risk/benefit ratios, and the suitability of a medication for a specific individual. Pharmacies offering medication without requiring a prescription and doctor review or supervision are sometimes fraudulent and may supply counterfeit—and ineffective and possibly dangerous—medicines. International consumers International consumers sometimes purchase drugs online from online pharmacies in their own countries, or those located in other counties. Some of these pharmacies require prescriptions, while others do not. Of those that do not require prescriptions, some ask the customer to fill in a health questionnaire with their order. Many drugs available online are produced by well-known manufacturers such as Pfizer, Wyeth, Roche, and generic drugmakers Cipla and Ranbaxy of India and Teva Pharmaceutical Industries of Israel. U.S. consumers An attraction of online pharmacies is drug prices. Shoppers can sometimes obtain 50 to 80 percent or more savings on U.S. prices at foreign pharmacies. The Washington Post reported that "...millions of Americans have turned to Mexico and other countries in search of bargain drugs...U.S. Customs estimates 10 million U.S. citizens bring in medications at land borders each year. An additional 2 million packages of pharmaceuticals arrive annually by international mail from Thailand, India, South Africa and other points. Still more packages come from online pharmacies in Canada." Some people[opinion] in the US, including some legislators, favor accessing foreign-made prescription drugs to lower Americans’ health costs. According to a Wall Street Journal/Harris Online poll in 2006, 80 percent of Americans favor importing drugs from Canada and other countries. President Obama’s budget supports a plan to allow people to buy cheaper drugs from other countries. A report in the journal Clinical Therapeutics found that U.S. consumers face a risk of getting counterfeit drugs because of the rising Internet sales of drugs, projected to reach $75 billion by 2010. In the United States, there are two verification programs for online pharmacies that are recognized by the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy (NABP). One is the Verified Internet Pharmacy Practice Sites Program (VIPPS), which is operated by the NABP and was created in 1999. The Food and Drug Administration refers Internet users interested in using an online pharmacy to the VIPPS program. The other is LegitScript, which as of September 2010 had approved over 340 Internet pharmacies as legitimate and identified over 47,000 "rogue" Internet pharmacies. Overseas online pharmacies and U.S. law Legality and risks of purchasing drugs online depend on the specific kind and amount of drug being purchased. It is illegal to purchase controlled substances from an overseas pharmacy. A person purchasing a controlled substance from such a pharmacy may be violating two federal laws that carry stiff penalties. The act of importation of the drug from overseas violates 21 USC, Section 952 (up to 5 years in prison and $250,000 fine for importation of non-narcotic Schedule III, IV, or V drugs; possibly more for narcotics and Schedule I and II drugs). The act of simple possession of a controlled substance without a valid prescription violates 21 USC, Section 844 (up to 1 year in prison and $1,000 fine). FDA does not recognize online prescriptions; for a prescription to be valid there must be a face-to-face relationship between the patient and the health-care professional prescribing the drug. What exactly constitutes a "face-to-face" relationship is considered by many online pharmacies to be a subjective definition that would allow them to operate as an adjunct to the patient's own physician if the patient submits medical records documenting a condition for which the requested medication is deemed appropriate for treatment. Sections 956 and 1301 provide exemptions for travellers who bring small quantities of controlled substances in or out of the country in person, but not by mail. Importation of an unapproved prescription drug (not necessarily a controlled substance) violates 21 USC, Section 301(aa), even for personal use. The Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act does allow for the importation of drug products for unapproved new drugs for which there is no approved American version. However, this allowance does not allow for the importation of foreign-made versions of U.S. approved drugs. The law further specifies that enforcement should be focused on cases in which the importation by an individual poses a threat to public health, and discretion should be exercised to permit individuals to make such importations in circumstances in which the prescription drug or device imported does not appear to present an unreasonable risk to the individual.