Ordering from an online pharmacy
April 20, 2009 10:09 AM   Subscribe

Logistically, what are some things I should be aware of when ordering from an online pharmacy (for delivery into the U.S.)?

This will be my first time ordering from an online pharmacy. What are some things of which I should be aware? I'm thinking about the following:

1) Should I use a prepaid Visa card? Is my own credit card OK? Something else? I realize that this question will depend highly on through whom I order, so for the purposes of this question, let's assume either (a) I'm ordering from a company that has received several recommendations on AskMe, and therefore is probably reasonably reputable; or (b) that "what's a trustworthy online pharmacy" is an alternative reading of this question. If a prepaid Visa is recommended, will any old prepaid that I get at a drugstore work?

2) Do I just give them my home address for shipping?

3) How long will it take to arrive? See the caveat on #1 above regarding the extent to which the answer to this question will differ depending on who I use.

Throwaway email: exviojevlkubez@mailinator.com (I realize I can't respond from there; if anyone sends something that warrants a response, I'll figure out how to get back in touch with you)

Thanks in advance!
posted by anonymous to Technology (7 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
I can't say what you should do, only what I did. I ordered from Inhouse Pharmacy using my regular old Visa debit card and had stuff shipped to my home address. The first time, it took about 4 days, which seemed incredibly fast from Vanuatu and the second time took a bit over a week. I think the trip through U.S. Customs can be pretty variable.
posted by otherwordlyglow at 10:13 AM on April 20, 2009

be sure the pharmacy has a VIPPS certification, for more comprehensive info you can visit Safemedicines.org

full disclosure: I do some marketing and webdev work for that site but am not employed by or directly affiliated with safemeds in any way. just a handy resource I happen to know about from a job :)
posted by supermedusa at 10:13 AM on April 20, 2009

My Bank of America credit card has the option to assign me a temporary credit card number that is still linked to my account but with an extremely low limit . I use it for purchases when I don't 100% trust the online vendor I'm using. That way, if they do something fishy with my CC number I am only out the amount assigned to that number, rather than compromise my whole credit line. The service is called called "ShopSafe" and it looks like other credit cards are starting to offer this as well. It might be something to look into.

However, if you are more concerned about the legal issues involved with using an online pharmacy, then a prepaid visa card bought with cash will be less traceable.
posted by muddgirl at 11:59 AM on April 20, 2009

For what it's worth, I ordered a Mirena from NorthwestPharmacy.com, and I was extremely disconcerted when it arrived to discover that it was the Turkish version. (i.e., all the packaging was in Turkish).
posted by leahwrenn at 2:47 PM on April 20, 2009

That way, if they do something fishy with my CC number I am only out the amount assigned to that number, rather than compromise my whole credit line.

To be clear, your liability is limited to $50 by Federal law anyway. This is so your credit card company is only out the amount assigned to that number. Still, that doesn't mean it's a bad idea to use those.
posted by Caviar at 6:10 PM on April 20, 2009

I've given Canadian pharmacies my regular credit card number and had no problems. I was careful to satisfy myself that I was dealing with actual pharmacies, not sham web sites looking for credit cards to steal. U.S. Customs has let the prescriptions pass across the border without problems. And when it arrives, you'll probably need to sign for it, either when the postal carrier delivers it, or, if you aren't home, at your local post office.
posted by exphysicist345 at 12:02 AM on April 21, 2009

Caviar - I meant to say that if someone used the credit card number to make unauthorized purchases, I would not have to go through the process of closing the credit card, making a claim to the company in writing, and so on. I know that banks can't hold users liable for fraudulent purchases but the process is still a pain.
posted by muddgirl at 9:39 AM on April 21, 2009

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