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Prescription Medicine (cont.)

Buying Prescription Drugs Online

Purchasing prescription drugs from legitimate online pharmacies is safe, convenient, private, and may provide cost savings. However, consumers should be aware of fraudulent websites. Some of these websites are not legitimate online pharmacies and do not observe laws that protect consumers from use of inappropriate or unsafe drugs. Some fraudulent websites offer prescription medications without a prescription or provide fake medications or even expired medications. Consumers can protect themselves from buying medications from fraudulent websites by using the following recommendations:

  • Only use state licensed pharmacies. Check for a list of state boards of pharmacy. A state's board of pharmacy will tell you which online pharmacies are licensed.
  • Use pharmacies that have the Verified Internet Pharmacy Practice Site Seal (VIPPS Seal). These sites have been certified by the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy (NABP). For more information visit
  • Use online pharmacies that have a licensed pharmacist on staff to answer your questions.
  • Avoid all pharmacies that sell prescription drugs without a prescription from your doctor.

Keeping Prescription Medications Safe at Home

At home, make sure the medication is stored away appropriately. The best place is dry, dark, and not too hot. If there are children in the house, or if children come over to visit from time to time, make sure that all bottles are locked up, usually in a high secure location where children cannot get them.

Some people who take many medications find it convenient to put all their pills for the week into little 7-day boxes made just for this convenience purpose (these are readily available at any pharmacy). Once this pill distribution is done, there are a few rules regarding prescription drugs that still need to be followed:

  • For many medications, especially antibiotics, patients need to finish the whole bottle, even if they feel better. Take all your medications as the healthcare professional has prescribed, or the patient may end up back at the pracitioner's for a second round of medication.
  • Some drugs are prescribed to treat ongoing conditions and will need to be continued beyond the month's supply generally given to you by the pharmacy. Be proactive and call your pharmacy a few days in advance so that your prescriptions can be filled and waiting for you when you need them. An easy general rule to follow is that when about 2/3 of the medicine is used, it is time to refill. Pharmacies can also tell when refills will run out so that you can make arrangements with the health care practitioner for either more refills or a reevaluation; some pharmacies have the ability to send refill notices to patients via email, phone, fax, and other methods. People are urged to simply ask what services are available to help them with their prescription medications.
  • If a person experiences a side effect of their medication, they should call their health care practitioner promptly.
  • Don't stop taking medications unless the patient's health care practitioner is first consulted to determine that stopping the medication is safe for the patient to do.
  • Don't take other people's medications, and don't let others take any of your medication.
  • Don't resume taking an old medication, even for the same symptoms, unless you have discussed it with your doctor first.
  • Periodically clean out the medicine cabinet. Check expiration dates. If there is no expiration date on a bottle, call the pharmacy to find out what to do. If medicine in a bottle or elsewhere cannot be identified, dispose of it. The best way to dispose of unused medications is to return them to a pharmacist.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 5/11/2016

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