Buying medicine online
Millions of consumers are using the Internet to get health information. And thousands of web sites are offering health information. Some of those sites are reliable and up-to-date; some are not. How can you tell the good from the bad?
The medicines that sold online can be fake (counterfeit or 'copycat' medicines); can be too strong or too weak, or have dangerous ingredients, or have expired (are out-of-date), or haven't been approved or checked for safety and effectiveness, can be made using non-safe standards, or not safe to use with other medicine or products you use.
You have to talk with your doctor and have a physical exam before you get any new medicine for the first time. Use only medicine that has been prescribed by your doctor or another trusted professional.
Make sure the site requires a prescription and has a pharmacist available for questions.
Your medicines benefits and risks
Although medicines can make you feel better and help you get well, it's important to know that all medicines, both prescription and over-the-counter, have risks as well as benefits.
The same is true before using any medicine. Every choice to take a medicine involves thinking through the helpful effects as well as the possible unwanted effects.
The benefit and risk decision is sometimes difficult to make. The best choice depends on your particular situation. You must decide what risks you can and will accept in order to get the benefits you want.
For example, if facing a life-threatening illness, you might choose to accept more risk in the hope of getting the benefits of a cure or living a longer life. On the other hand, if you are facing a minor illness, you might decide that you want to take very little risk.
Ask your doctor always if there are interactions with any other medicines or dietary supplements (including vitamins or herbal supplements), beverages, or foods. Use the same pharmacy for all of your medicine needs, whenever possible.
Before starting any new medicine or dietary supplement (including vitamins or herbal supplements), ask your doctor again if there are possible interactions with what you are currently using.
You always have to pay attention to how you are feeling; note any changes. Write down the changes so that you can remember to tell your doctor, pharmacist, or other health care professional.