Why do so many Americans turn to Canadian pharmacies, when there is such a huge selection of local drugstores in their native country? The reason is much more affordable prices. According to experts, due to governmental regulation, drug prices in Canada are around 70% lower than in the USA, meanwhile, there is no difference in quality and safety of medicines.
Millions of US citizens believe that buying medications from Canada is the perfect solution to the problem of too expensive drugs and are ready to make long trips to the neighboring country several times a year in order to purchase medicines prescribed at bearable and reasonable prices.
Fortunately, today, there is no need to go to Canada in order to take full advantage of beneficial prices offered at local drugstores. You can make purchases right from your home via the Internet. The main point is to find the online drugstore that will be trustworthy enough and will perfectly suit your needs.
Main Risks Associated with Buying Medicines on the Internet
Here are the key risks you should keep in mind, when ordering healthcare items (as well as other goods) via the Internet:
- Fly-by-night companies. In many cases, they just collect customers’ money, but do not send any products. Instead, they just disappear.
- Websites selling medications of low quality. There is a risk that you will be sent a product containing a wrong dose (as a rule, a smaller one) of active ingredient or no active ingredient at all. There are counterfeit medicines that are made of chalk only, they do not make any negative impact on health directly, but they do not treat a disease either, which eventually leads to adverse consequences. Also, there is a risk that you will be sent a product containing harmful components.
- Losing money. If you send a payment via an insecure platform, there is a risk that your money or financial information can be stolen.
- Losing a package. In fact, it is not always a fault of an online drugstore. When it comes to sending any goods via a postal service, there is always a risk that a parcel will get lost on its way to a customer. But those companies that take proper care of their clients’ interests have special insurance for such cases.
- Serious delivery delays. No doubt, in the case of prescription medicines, each day of delay counts. When a package does not arrive in time, a customer has to go to a local pharmacy to replenish supplies and, in most cases, to overpay. A patient cannot interrupt a treatment course, due to shipping problems, since that may lead to complications.
- Incompetent pharmacists. A pharmacist is not just a person selling drugs. It is a medical specialist that makes sure that all the products ordered by a customer suit him and are fully compatible with each other. Also, a pharmacist is a specialist that can answer any questions about medicines on offer and can even give medical advice in some cases. When there are no licensed pharmacists on the staff, it is risky to turn to such an online drugstore.
- Distributing prescription medicines without a prescription. At first glance that may seem to be an advantage, since that makes customers’ lives easier ― they do not have to find free time in order to schedule a consultation, to undergo a medical examination and to have a discussion with a doctor. But all those are necessary precautions that secure patients from complications, side effects and drug interactions. In practice, buying prescription medications without a valid prescription means putting your health (and sometimes even life) at serious risk.
15 Details to Pay Attention to When Choosing an Online Pharmacy
- A reputation. It is well-known that, to learn whether the company selected is worth trusting, one needs to have a close look at customers’ feedback. Sure, to get a true-to-life picture, it is better to search for an independent external platform publishing clients’ reviews, since, as a rule, comments presented on a website belonging to a pharmacy are moderated. No doubt, you will find both positive and negative reviews, since there are always people that are dissatisfied with some aspects. But, in case you see that most clients leave positive comments, the drugstore is worth trying. In addition, you can search for news related to the company, that can also provide you with useful information. Sure, if the pharmacy has been working for a few months only, it will be difficult to check its reliability, so, it is better to refrain from using its services.
- An assortment. Online drugstores provide clients with an opportunity to order all the medicines needed in one place without making trips around the city in search of rare items. So, the bigger is the catalog of an Internet pharmacy, the better. One more aspect to pay special attention to is a selection of generics, i.e. bioequivalent copies of brand-name drugs that are produced by different manufacturers and are sold at much cheaper prices. Buying such copies is the best way to reduce drug expenses. According to statistics, in Canada, generics become available about 5 years earlier than in the USA. Do not miss such a beneficial opportunity.
- A pricing policy. Many clients strive to find an online pharmacy with the cheapest prices. But you should keep in mind that, when a website offers prices that are dramatically lower than at all the other platforms, that is a warning sign. And, in many cases, such large discounts arise from quality problems.
- A loyalty program. When there are additional bonuses and discounts for steady buyers, that means a company highly values their clients.
- Customer support services. First of all, make sure that there are qualified pharmacists on the staff and that you can get in touch with one of them 24/7/365. There is always a risk that you will face a side effect and will need a consultation or that you will just want to ask a question about a product chosen. Besides, it is much more convenient when you have an opportunity to receive professional support at any time without adjusting to the working hours of a pharmacy. Sure, you can get information about the quality of support from reviews left by other customers.
- Refill reminders. According to the study carried out at Jhsph.edu, 21.14% of patients discontinue receiving drug therapy because of failure to get refills. A great online drugstore is a company that makes your life easier in the first place. So, search for a website that will not only sell quality medications to you, but will also offer extra care, like reminding you to replenish your supplies when necessary.
- A policy on prescription usage. As it has been noted above, getting a prescription before trying any prescription medications is a must. As a rule, you can send such a document by fax or email. Canadian drugstores accept prescriptions from US doctors, but they should also be reviewed and cosigned by local specialists. However, as a rule, pharmacies deal with those issues on their own without disturbing clients. You can also, however, have a consultation with a specialist online – in the opinion of researchers from University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine, remote consulting services are the future of digital pharmacies.
- Shipping conditions. First, check whether the pharmacy chosen sends out orders to your country. Then, compare terms and prices it offers with those on other websites.
- A tracking service. That’s all about convenience. International shipping can take a couple of weeks, and most clients prefer to stay informed about current locations of their parcels in order to make sure that they will receive them on time. Besides, when tracking is available, it is easier to find out a reason for a delay.
- Packaging. Obviously, it should be safe and protect products from damages. But, if a pharmacy also ensures that each order is packed so that no one can guess what it contains, that is a huge advantage. Most people strive to keep secret all the information about their health problems.
- Payments. To start with, companies that take care of their clients’ comfort accept a vast selection of versatile payment options that are widely used in most countries. Also, a trustworthy online drugstore will definitely choose and offer only those payment variants that are 100% reliable and secure and will refuse all the doubtful options.
- A user-friendly website. The platform should both look great and provide all the necessary functions. It should be intuitive as well, so that you can easily deal with all the ordering procedures without any external help.
- Newsletters. Many online drugstores send newsletters informing about sales, discounts and other promotions. Sure, you can refuse receiving them, but that is a convenient way to stay aware of current and upcoming offers. If you use certain medications on a regular basis, you can adjust your shopping practices and wait for a suitable promotion in order to buy them on more beneficial terms.
- A mobile application. If a drugstore offers a brand application for smartphones and tablets, that provides additional convenience to users. Since a mobile phone is always at hand, a customer can make purchases whenever he has a couple of free minutes and access to wi-fi.