Monday, September 10, 2012

Should You Buy Your Meds Online?

The last time I needed a prescription medication, my doctor typed it into his computer and I just went to my local pharmacy to pick it up. One co-pay later and I was on my way to recovery. Since my COBRA benefits expired last month, along with my prescription benefits, I'm now on my own for medications.

Before I knew about FamilyWize, I wondered if I could buy a ninety day supply via mail order from an on line pharmacy like I did with my former insurance plan.  That was very economical and I wondered if I could do the same online without insurance. I searched for a pharmacy online and came up with a huge list. Which one is the best online pharmacy? Are there risks involved? How can I protect myself?

What I learned made me hesitant, it seems like the risks might not outweigh any benefits.

Risks of Ordering Online
  • A pharmacy online might not be licensed in the U.S. so it might not adhere to U.S. safety standards.
  • Counterfeit drugs might be dispensed.
  • The site might not be a real pharmacy and could steal your identity/credit card information.
  • Medications might not be received or be correct and the pharmacy offers no resolution to the problem.
Other Red Flags
  • An e pharmacy that doesn't insist on having the prescription mailed or faxed to them isn’t legitimate. Federal law requires pharmacists to have a written prescription that contains the doctor's signature and other information that identifies the doctor as one that is licensed to write prescriptions.
  •  An international pharmacy might provide medication that is not approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
  •  Would you want to order ANYTHING, especially medicine from a pharmacy that does not list a street address or has only foreign contact information?
Here’s a link with some useful information you can use to protect yourself.

One thing that I discovered was that part of the reason buying by mail or online seemed so economical was because I was ordering a three month supply.  I discovered that there’s a real savings because the pharmacy is only charging one dispensing fee for the three month supply. If you fill them as 3 separate prescriptions, you’ll pay a fee for each filling.

Local pharmacies offer counseling from a pharmacist.
If your doctor, or vet for pet medications, will write a 90 day prescription and you use a FamilyWize card, you may find you save even more than ordering from an online pharmacy. Plus if you shop at your local pharmacy, you'll save postage too. So if you're looking for a discount, don't discount your local pharmacy. 

Here’s  something I learned that may even be more valuable than saving money on your prescription. When ordering online, we don't get face time with a pharmacist who can be familiar with our overall health. I've been getting prescriptions for both my mother and myself and it's nice to be able to connect with the same pharmacist each time. I was looking for an over the counter allergy medication recently, and our pharmacist suggested checking with my doctor first because what I had chosen could have an interaction with one of my prescribed medications.  I realized I might miss out on that extra care if I purchase prescriptions from one store and over the counter medications from another store.

Try your FamilyWize discount drug card on a 90 day supply of your prescriptions and see how much you can save.

Caroline Carr
Contributing Writer

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