One of the wonderful things about filling prescriptions at a local pharmacy, whether it is part of a national chain or locally owned, is that you know whom you are dealing with. While many well-known corporations allow customers to fill their prescriptions online, there are also more nefarious websites that target people who are trying to save money or who want medications that are not usually available in the United States.
For a pharmacist working in a brick and mortar store, customers defecting to online pharmacies could have devastating economic implications. There are numerous government and industry resources available to help educate your customers about the potential dangers of ordering their medications online.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has a section devoted to warning consumers about the possible problems associated with purchasing medications over the internet. They provide details on how patients can help recognize counterfeit medications and how to tell if they have received the wrong medication, as well as warning signs that a website may not be legitimate. The site also has a variety of materials you can print and post in your pharmacy or give to customers when they fill a prescription.
The National Association of Boards of Pharmacy has a link to the licensure website for each state as well as for areas of Canada and New Zealand. Provide this link in any literature you may want to assemble for customers to help them make informed decisions.
The FBI has a brief overview of how consumers can help protect themselves from illegitimate online pharmacies. Print the article and post for customers to read in your pharmacy.
Of course, you don’t want to scare customers into thinking that all websites that offer to fill prescriptions online are providing inferior products or set up to obtain credit card information for malicious purposes. However, the threat of those situations occurring is quite real and more likely to happen with older individuals or people who are not aware of the possibility. By providing factual information and resources for your customers, you will help them make informed decisions. You may even be able to point to your own website as an example of what a reputable site looks like and how it can be verified.
How have you handled the increase in online accessibility of medications and the ability of customers to obtain those medications for a lower price than you are able to offer? Have you had patients come back with horror stories? Do you actively try to warn customers about the dangers that can be associated with filling prescriptions online?