An online pharmacy is a pharmacy that markets its products through the internet and fulfils the orders of the customers via mail or shipping firms. Lawful online pharmacies may operate from the same place as from where the person ordering resides or from a different place. However, illegal online pharmacies also exist that may sell counterfeit or expired drugs also not abide by normal procedural safeguards.
Some customers prefer online drug stores to community pharmacies as it appears more convenient to them as compared to going to a community drug store. It is similar to ordering products online instead of walking down to a shop.
Fulfillment of orders through home delivery
Home delivery of drugs and other medicinal products may come with desirable convenience, though, at times it may be faced with the issue of uncontrolled distribution. The shipment of medicines via parcel post and mail may be a cause of concern sometimes for temperature-sensitive pharma products. Uncontrolled shipping conditions may include low as well as high temperatures that falls outside the range of the mentioned storage conditions for a medicine. For instance, as seen by the United States Food and Drug Administration (US FDA), in sunlight, the temperature in a mail box could go up to 136 degree Fahrenheit or 58 degree Celsius, though the ambient air temperature was 101 degree Fahrenheit or 38 degree Celsius.
Shipment of drugs and other medicinal products through couriers and express mail bring down the time taken in transit and generally involves doorstep delivery. The usage of insulated shipping containers helps in controlling the temperature of the drug, thus lowering the risk to drug efficacy as well as safety.
What are the risk factors associated with online shipment of drugs?
Some of the concerns and risks associated with online shipment of pharmaceutical products may include the following:
- Sometimes, an online drug store may be located in another country than what has been stated. For instance, a study of medicine shipments that claimed to be from Canada showed that it actually originated in various other countries and were generally poor-quality or counterfeit drugs.
- Unethical or illegitimate drug stores may, at times send substituted, outdated or fake medicines.
- There is a possibility of children below the age of eighteen years placing an order for controlled substances in the absence of adult supervision.
- Other concerns many include improper packaging, potential lack of confidentiality and also inability to check for drug interactions.