Wall Street Journal Examines Use of Online Pharmacies
The Wall Street Journal today looks at the issues facing consumers who purchase their prescription drugs through online pharmacies. Consumers should consider safety issues, as well as the ethics and legality of these sites, before ordering their prescriptions online, according to the Journal. Consumers also should look for sites approved by their state's board of pharmacy and the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy, and sites should offer posted policies on prescription verification and customer support, the Journal reports. The Web sites also should also include an address and phone number where the company can be reached. The best Internet pharmacies provide information on potential drug interactions, recent drug recalls and generic drugs, according to the Journal. While online pharmacies claim to offer considerable cost savings, a 1999 Consumer Reports study found average savings of only 10% compared with drug store chains and supermarkets. Individuals with drug coverage will be charged the same copayment wherever they shop, regardless of price. Canadian stores offer the biggest savings. Consumers in some cases enjoy greater privacy if they go online for drugs, because they do not have to interact in person with a pharmacist, the Journal reports. Some online pharmacies allow their employees to view only "need-to-know" personal information on their customer (Bialik, Wall Street Journal, 11/18).
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