Estimated online pharmacies in the US are almost 50 thousand, and surprisingly the US pharmacy market is largely prescription based. 

It is a matter of interest to know whether buying online prescription drugs from an app for pharmacists is legitimate or not.

So, purchasing prescription medicines through online pharmacy app and receiving those by mail might be legal if specific requirements to run online pharmacy are met. The pool of requirements varies as you are required to have a valid prescription and the other for the business from which you are ordering prescription medicines. 

Let us study a few steps to make sure that you are purchasing online prescription medicine from a legal online pharmacy app or website for pharmacy, with a valid prescription.

First of all, consider Prescribers who provide online prescriptions

You might have received emails or advertisements that say that you can buy prescription medicines with a discount even if you do not have a valid prescription with you. I too have received such messages and I choose not to fall prey. Purchasing medicines from such online pharmacies can be a big mistake, you should avoid doing it. 

For customers, when you choose to buy a prescription medicine from an online medical store, you must have a prescription to provide it to a pharmacy. As per the US federal law, pharmacies must make sure that, as a buyer, you have a connection with the doctor who's prescription you have submitted. Prescription is also required to have a doctor's signature on it.

Beware of the online medicine apps saying that they have a doctor who can prescribe medications for you without even seeing you personally. This is a violation of law as the doctor should not have the authority to diagnose you on call or over email. 

Moreover, sometimes pharmacies send a detailed questionnaire, and based on the answers they suggest medications. A few times this too fails to meet some basic standards of diagnosis. 

Secondly, check for certified doctors for telemedicine 

In the early '90s, it was believed that the patient's diagnosis can only be done by physically examining them. With that being stated, the approach and implementation of telemedicine are rapidly growing and that is how we see the medical diagnosis method. Especially in the US, where non-profit association ATA has taken responsibility for the enactment and rulemaking to reshape telemedicine.

Nowadays, as telemedicine is implemented and widely used by doctors and patients, majorly by US citizens. Doctors can now schedule and conduct an online examination of the patients through video consulting over the laptop or a smartphone. 

As we talked previously, compared to the online doctors that are not certified to diagnose the patients online and suggest medications, telemedicine doctors are practitioners certified by the board. These doctors usually have to get accreditation from a state government entity. 

Furthermore, an estimated report manifests that almost 76% of hospitals in the US use video consulting or the other technology that enables them to connect consulting practitioners and patients. 

The medical practices have changed extensively as the federation of state medical boards in the US has endorsed regulations to allow telemedicine practitioners to write prescriptions. But they are bound to meet certain technical and medical criteria to do so. 

This too does never mean that doctors can prescribe anything through the e-pharmacy app. Some medications, like sleeping pills, require the patient's examination in-person. Such medications will never be prescribed through video consultation only. To make sure that this does not happen, the center for connected health policy has developed guidelines as policies and regulations on telemedicine. This applies to all of the 50 states and the district of Columbia. 

Now, the most common question is, how can you make sure about the types of prescriptions that are allowed by telemedicine doctors. Let us brief a few of those for you: 

  • Medicines helping to lower cholesterol levels
  • Medications for allergies 
  • Medications for high blood pressure
  • Antibiotics
  • Antifungals

Finally, make sure that your purchase is legal 

Consider safety when you are purchasing medication online, even if online pharmacy apps are safe and legitimate.

Make sure that your answer is yes for the mentioned questions considering specifications given by the Federal Trade Commission and the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency:

  • Does the online medical store or a pharmacy ask for a valid prescription? 

              This must be a signed prescription by a doctor and not just a list of a questionnaire that you have answered.

  • Does that online pharmacy have a license by the state in which it resides? 

              You can always check a pharmacy's license through your state board pharmacy.

  • Does that e-pharmacy have a pharmacist on board to answer your calls, if required? 

              Always prefer to confirm the provided number on an online medical store app or a website for pharmacy. You can call them and ask the usual  questions. The sole purpose of doing so is to confirm the authenticity of an online pharmacy. 

So, you can legally buy prescription medication from an online pharmacy, once you are confident that the chemist app is authentic and you have a valid prescription signed by your doctor.

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