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The Online Pharmacy - Your Resource to Buy Medications Online 

An online pharmacy or Internet pharmacy is one that operates over the Internet to allow customers to buy medications online and have the medications delivered without the customer having to physically travel to the pharmacy. Because prescriptions are mailed to customers, an online pharmacy is sometimes referred to as a mail order pharmacy. Other synonyms are mail pharmacy and mail in pharmacy.

Although the latter references relate more to the way the pharmacy delivers medications to the customers, many if not most online pharmacies allow prescriptions to be mailed in as well as called in even though the majority of the transactions are performed online.  Depending on the location of the pharmacy a customer medications might be shipped through non-postal means such as FedEx, particularly if the customer and the Internet pharmacy are in different countries or states.

An online pharmacy might not be a typical brick and mortar facility where customers buy medications online as well as in-store. Rather, it is strictly Internet-based, in which case business overhead is much lower. Because of the lower operated expenses this type of online pharmacy is more likely to offer Discount Prescription Medications. This business structure which is unofficially referred to as a first- generation online pharmacy, differs in some respects from the online pharmacy services provided by a brick and mortar retail pharmacy.

Because the online pharmacy within a retail pharmacy (referred to as a second-generation online pharmacy) has higher overhead due a larger-sized facility, more staff and other greater expenses for conducting in-store service, it is less likely to be able to discount medication prices to the same extent as the first generation online pharmacy. In considering cost and comparing the first-generation and second-generation online pharmacy however, consideration must be given to the fact that there might be higher shipping costs associated with buying medications online from the first-generation online pharmacy, because it is more likely to be a greater distance away and the second generation pharmacy which might be part of a large chain, is usually local and sometimes provides free delivery.

To buy medication online a customer needs to create an online account with the Internet pharmacy before making a payment. If the online pharmacy is a legitimate accredited business it will require a physician’s prescription which can be faxed, called in by the prescribing doctor’s office or transmitted electronically by the doctor’s office before the payment is received and the medication is dispensed.

Payment at the time of checkout varies depending on the internet pharmacy.  With either type of pharmacy it will be important to find out before buying medication online if the online pharmacy will file your insurance providing you have pharmacy insurance benefits. If the pharmacy will file your insurance you need to know whether you are responsible for paying the full cost of the medications pending reimbursement after filing, or if the online pharmacy coordinates benefits and only requires you to pay the amount not covered by your insurance. 

If you have pharmacy benefits through a managed care plan and the pharmacy you plan to buy medications online from is in the managed care network to which you belong there should be mutual agreement between you and the Internet pharmacy that you will only pay the applicable copayment or coinsurance and the balance of your bill will be paid to the pharmacy by your pharmacy benefits manager after the pharmacy files the claim.  The Internet pharmacy also needs to understand that your balance should be based on a discounted negotiated fee schedule based on its agreement with the managed care plan.  

The ability to buy medications online 24 hours per day 365 days per year via an Internet pharmacy is a definite advantage for individuals with limited mobility and busy schedules, and is one reason individuals have been buying medications online in record numbers in recent years.    

Despite the benefits of buying medications online many consumers have been victims of unethical practices on the part of some online companies ranging from delivery of counterfeit drugs to violations of privacy. For this reason it is important to investigate an Internet pharmacy before deciding to buy medications online. First of all make sure the pharmacy is licensed. Secondly, make sure it is in good standing with the Better Business Bureau.  Thirdly, make sure it has had any government actions against it. 

Most online pharmacies offer generic medications which are significantly discounted compared to brand-name medications because they don’t have a marketing patent, but when shopping for generic online medications it is important to make sure that the generic medications being sold by the online pharmacy are FDA approved. For more information about FDA approved generic drugs visit the FDA Office Department of Generic Drugs Website. 

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