How do we know these things? We’re experts. We’ve been in the business of selling prescription medications online to the USA since day one. Our pharmacy has been in business for 46 years. We’ve sent over 1,000,000 orders out, with no mistakes, in 12 years of mail order operations! We’ve been called in by various State and municipal governments over the years to help them find solutions. We’ve seen it all in this business!
Although most internet Web sites selling products and services are legitimate, unfortunately, there are sites out there that are not. How can you tell?
We believe in educating our customers to help them make better buying decisions! We understand that buying anything on the internet can be uncomfortable so we’ve put together this list of 26 tips to help you!
12 years ago, when we opened our first Web site canadianprescriptionsavers.com to sell mail order prescription medications, there wasn’t much concern about counterfeit drugs, or fake Web sites. We’ve always provided approved medications and only available with a valid doctor’s prescription from our customers.
But as the internet grew, many unsavoury characters saw the chance to make money by doing things illegally, and the pharmacy business has not been immune to that.
Web sites started selling Viagra without prescriptions. The site owners would pay doctors in the USA to create prescriptions without seeing the patient. Then they patterned these tactics with selling pain medications, sleeping pills, and other controlled or habit forming drugs.
The FDA stepped in and started making changes. Doctors who wrote scripts without seeing patients were penalized. Some went to jail. Some US pharmacies were shut down for shady operations.
Web sites also started appearing with claims of being real pharmacies located here in Canada. It’s estimated that as many as 85% of online “Canadian Pharmacies” were in fact not Canadian and not actual pharmacies.
Unfortunately, the majority of prescription medication now sold online is done by organizations that are not pharmacies that operate outside of Canada and The United States, know nothing or very little about medications, do not stock the product themselves, may have purchased the product illegally and have never sold any prescription medications ever! A fair amount of this is shipped from India (without the customer thinking it’s coming from Canada!) and most those orders are stopped by US Customs when they enter the USA.
When an offshore order of medication is stopped by US customs, the package is turned over to the FDA. The FDA will send a letter to the customer who ordered stating they will destroy the product or return it to the shipper. But the customer is not getting it! And if it was ordered offshore, you probably won’t get your money back either!
This has had a dramatic effect on legitimate Canadian Pharmacies who ship to US customers. As it’s difficult to determine whose real. The FDA has lumped all online pharmacies into one basket and warned Americans not to order prescriptions online.
There were so many Web sites operating illegally from offshore locations (and still to this date) that it’s become difficult to figure out who’s “real” and who’s not!
But, there are numerous ways to find a reputable Online Canadian Pharmacy to purchase quality medications from.
To help you decide who’s real and who’s not, follow the tips below and do your homework. Most of these tips can also be used when purchasing anything online! Use common sense and if you’re feeling unsure of the Web site you’re thinking of buying from, maybe there’s a good reason why!
Online Buyers Guide
- Does the site provide clear, sensible “contact” information?
Contact Information should include a telephone number, a physical address (not just a PO Box) and hours of operation. No phone number? How would you get a hold of them if you need to? PO Box? What are they hiding? Do they not have an actual business or storefront as they claim? If you owned a real pharmacy, why would you hide behind a PO Box? Do they have a toll free number? If they’re selling across the nation, they should offer one. No Phone Number? No real Address? No Toll Free? Stay away!
- Call their telephone number!
Call the number listed. See if they answer. If they don’t; leave a message and see how long it takes to have your call returned. If you called a local business you know, what would your expectations be? Aside from different time zones and hours of operation, your expectations should not change. Would you hire a local plumber that takes 2 days to return your call? Probably not so why do it with an internet company?Ask them questions and expect immediate thoughtful answers. If they have to get back to you, it could mean they don’t know very much!Can you understand the person talking on the other end of the line? Do they sound like they’re in an offshore call center thousands of miles away? If they do, would you suspect the company you’re thinking of buying from is also offshore?Are they nice to you? What does your gut tell you? Are they trying to “sell” you, or genuinely trying to help you?
- Do they have an email address you can use to contact them?
They should if they’re selling anything online. And it should end the same as their Web site name. For example, if the Web sites name is JohnnysWidgets.com, the email address should look something like firstname.lastname@example.org, not JohnnyW@yahoo.com, or WidgetGuy@hotmail.com. If the Web site is using email addresses from GMail.com, Hotmail.com, Yahoo.com or other similar free email Web sites, the chances are increased that they’re not reputable and hiding behind something.
- Are they selling a product or service and making outlandish promises?
Too good to be true? Probably is! Bear in mind though, with prescription medications, The USA has the highest prices in the world for the majority of brand name medications! Medications from Canada typically offer savings averaging 50%!
- Do you see a price for medication that you think may be too good to be true?
Call us and we’ll let you know if it’s possible based on Canadian Wholesale Prices. No obligation to buy from us and we won’t try to sell you anything! Province by Province, all pharmacies pay the same amount. The prices are set and non-negotiable.
- Is the site safeguarded to protect your credit card information?
Extremely important to check! How? There are two great ways to tell if your information is being sent over the internet in a secure, encrypted fashion.
- In the upper left corner of your browser window, you’ll see the domain name of the site you’re visiting. You’ll typically see the letters “http” as in http://www.aboutabilify.com but when you’re on the page that you’re entering your credit card information, you should see the letters “https”. Note the addition of the letter “s” which means the webpage you’re on is indeed “secure”.
- You should also see a “padlock” icon somewhere on your computer screen. Look all over for it! Could be in the bottom of the page in the status bar or maybe the top beside the location bar. And it’s not just a pretty icon! Click on it and you should see information about the security of the Web site you’re on.
If the Web site is not secure, run, run away! DO NOT ENTER YOUR CREDIT CARD INFORMATION IF IT’S NOT SECURE!
- Will they take your credit card information via phone?
They should without question. Many people are nervous about entering their credit information online and prefer to do it over the phone. It’s amazing how many Web sites won’t take credit information over the phone!Why won’t they? Good question. Maybe they don’t actually own the bank account that charges customer credit cards. Maybe they’re located offshore and not available during your regular, USA waking hours. Maybe their policy is out dated. What if you need a refund? If you can’t get them to take your credit card information over the phone, chances are pretty good it’s going to be even harder to get your money back!Even if you’re ok with using your credit card online, it may be worth calling them anyway to see if they’d take your information over the phone. You might learn something you really didn’t want to!
- Do they advertise themselves as an actual Canadian Pharmacy?
Canadian Pharmacies in each province are governed by their local College of Pharmacists. Currently, only Pharmacies located in the Provinces of British Columbia or Manitoba are legally allowed to ship prescription medications to The USA. Call them and ask for their pharmacy license number if it’s not available on their site. While you have them on the phone, ask them for the toll free number of their college so you can call and verify that they’re licensed.
- Where do the products originate from?
There should be clear information on the site that you can find easily.If it’s a Canadian Pharmacy, the products should come from Canada and it should state that somewhere on the site. If the site offers multiple countries of origin of the medications, then the site should give you the details of each individual medication or product so you can make the decision.If the site uses terms like “most of” or “some of” when describing products or where they come from, it’s not good enough and they may be trying to mislead you.Some sites will show you products you are led to believe are coming from Canada, but you’ll find out 3 or 4 weeks later when you’re still waiting that they’re actually coming from a faraway land!If the information is not clear and concise, then ask questions. If you don’t like the answers or the answers are vague, find another Web site that answers your questions and does not attempt to mislead you.
- Do they sell Controlled, Habit Forming or Narcotic medications?
Real Canadian Pharmacies can’t and won’t.If you see sites selling products like Valium, Ultram, Oxycontin, Ambien, Adderall and Xanax, they’re not legal sites and you need to be wary!
- Do they require a valid doctor’s prescription?
If they’re legal and in Canada, they have to! It’s the law!There are exceptions though for some “over the counter” (OTC) items. We do have some different laws here for some things that are considered RX items in the USA…for example insulin in Canada is an OTC item and no Rx is required. Same with nicotine patches.
- No Prescription required or their Dr. will create one?
Run away. Very fast! Not legal!
- Will a Doctor consult with you over the phone to write you a prescription?
How do you know you’re talking to a doctor? Maybe yesterday that “doctor” was selling timeshares or long distance in a call center! Again. Run away very fast!Even if they were a doctor, it’s highly unethical and who wants to do business with those people?
- Is the product sold as “Doctor Supervised” or “Free Coaching!”?
Careful! Sites selling weight-loss products are good for using these tactics. Some will charge you more for this alleged service. How will you ever know the person on the other end of the phone or email is a doctor or coach? And who certifies these coaches?
- Is the Pharmacy a member of an organization that gives a stamp of approval?
Be very careful with this one! There are so many organizations that hand out pharmacy accreditation that it’s become confusing! With the power of the internet, now anyone can create their own stamp of approval! We’ve seen pharmacy sites that have created their own stamps or awards badges and display them proudly for all to see! Yet it’s one person working from home, without an actual office, never mind a pharmacy!Even the ones that attempt to operate “above board” leave room for error or for others to counterfeit their badges! cipa.comis a good example of this. CIPA, Canadian International Pharmacy Association is an association of legitimate Canadian retail pharmacies that pay a membership fee to be part of the group and have the right to use the CIPA seal on their Web site. But the seal is counterfeited and used on illegal Web sites.Ideally, you should be able to click your mouse on any these seals from any approval company and be redirected to the site that does the approval for verification. But even then, you often run into more counterfeited sites! And how does the untrained person ever know?Even some legitimate pharmacies and Web sites that have been approved by CIPA are very misleading! So many tell you they are located in Canada and infer that they ship from Canada. But what some don’t tell you is some of the products (if not all) are coming not from Canada, but directly to you from foreign countries! And may take 3-4 weeks to get to you. They use smoke and mirrors and fine print to mislead the consumer. We would consider this false and misleading advertising and for that reason, we choose not to be a part of CIPA.Or, even the organizations that do the certification may not do a thorough job. Some just see it as a cash grab. We have dealt with organizations that only approve pharmacies that require licenses. Yet when you look at some of the pharmacies they list on their site as being checked over and approved, we found sites selling medications without the required Rx’s! What kind of approval process did they use? Rock, Paper, Scissors?There are also numerous other Web sites offering to tell you whether an online pharmacy is legitimate or not. But…if the real pharmacy refuses to pay to be listed, they can end up on the illegal list! It’s become a game of blackmail in some cases!We are extremely proud to say that our standards are higher than anyone’s and that we refuse to be a part of any organization that leaves room for error or misrepresentation to the customer!
- Is the Web site small with limited information?
Often times the idea of simple means better is a good thing. Maybe not the case though when you’re buying prescription medications that your health depends on.Make sure there’s a good deal of pertinent information on the Web site. A 5 page Web site just doesn’t cut the mustard. You need to be informed in able to make the right decision.
- Does the appearance of the Web site make you think twice?
You should be comfortable with the Web site. Does it look professional or done by some kids on their lunch break at school?Would you buy your medication from a street vendor selling out of a converted refrigerator shipping box? Same goes for the internet…looks matter!
- Claims like “Limited Time Offer!” or “Limited Quantities!”
It’s a sales pitch used to try and get you to act impulsively! We as humans think in strange ways! We don’t think of the money we spend so much as we think of the money we might save! We feel we’ll lose if we don’t buy at that special price, even if we don’t need or want the product!Beware of catchy gimmicks that are designed to separate you from your hard earned cash!
- Getting lots of spam?
Ever entered your email address on a Web site and soon your inbox is starting to get filled with spam? It’s because someone took your email address and sold it to people who can use it to try and sell you their products and services!Here’s a great tip: create, keep and use a separate email address from GMail, Hotmail, or Yahoo for all of your online purchases. If your email address is sold and you start getting vast amounts of spam, who cares? Delete that email address and create another one for online purchases. Don’t use email addresses from your work or your local internet provider.
- Does the Web site make “FDA Approved” claims of any sort?
If they do, they’re lying and you need to leave the site fast!NONE of the medications sold by real Canadian pharmacies that sell real Canadian medications and ship from Canada are FDA APPROVED. They are approved by Health Canada only. They FDA only approve products that are for sale on shelves in the USA, not any other country.Here’s an example: in Puerto Rico, there are approximately 80 large manufacturing plants that produce prescription medications. These plants are owned by all the big pharmaceutical manufacturers.Why set up shop in Puerto Rico one might ask? Because in the 60’s and 70’s, US based manufacturers could set up there and then send all the profits back to the states WITHOUT HAVING TO PAY ANY FEDERAL TAXES!!!Those tax incentives have now expired, but currently, about 15 of the top 20 selling drugs in the USA and Canada are made in Puerto Rican plants.Now picture this. Identical product, identical brand name, identical dose etc., coming off of the same production line. One box goes to the USA and one box goes to Canada. Although identical, the medication in the box going to Canada is not FDA Approved!Even if the manufacturing facility is in a foreign country and the facility itself is FDA approved, only products manufactured there and shipped into The USA by the manufacturer for sale in the USA are FDA approved.In summary, it’s not possible or legal for anyone to sell FDA Approved medications anywhere but within the USA. Anything sold outside of USA borders cannot be sold as FDA APPROVED!
- Does the Web site offer free stuff if you sign up?
This is a tactic used to get your email address! Then what will they do with it? Use it to harass you to buy their product or just sell your email address to other spammers!It’s simple: if they run a good business, value their customers and really want to help, they’d offer the information for free.Did you sign up to read these buying tips? Nope! We’re just happy to share our knowledge and keep anyone from getting ripped off! If we gain a good customer along the way, then we’re even happier!
- Does the site make claims like “Number One!” or “Best” or “Fastest?”
Again, anyone can make claims. Who’s doing the ratings? Probably the owner of the site, not a 3rdparty! Are they even being done? How can you verify?Beware of any site that uses “hype” and oodles of “BS” to make themselves look outstanding. They really just want to get into your wallet!
- What are the shipping fees?
So many sites charge outrageous fees for shipping and handling. Why? Because it’s a way to make more money from you!The prices should be fair. Cover the cost of the postage or courier fees and maybe a bit more for packaging and for someone to do the packaging.Shipping fees should be posted upfront. Never give your credit information or complete an online purchase without knowing the actual shipping charges!
- What are the shipping policies?
These should be well laid out. There should be a webpage that explains everything you need to know including prices, available delivery services, countries delivered to and expected delivery times.You should also know where your product is coming from. If the site owner is vague in any regard, maybe you need to think twice and wonder if they’re not telling you the whole story!
- What’s included with your purchase?
Again, this information should be readily available. No fine print. No searching all over the Web site for the information!When you buy a pen, expect it to have ink in it when it arrives in your mailbox. The ink should not be a separate purchase that costs you more. Especially after the fact!
We hope these tips can help your online shopping experiences to be safer! We’re definitely here to help! If you’ve got some great tips you’d like to share with others, send them along and we’ll post them here!