As patients embrace decentralized care models, pharmacy leaders have a unique opportunity to support them in new ways. They should focus on addressing consumer concerns about safety and cost-conscious medication access.

Avoid mail-order pharmacies offering discounts that seem too good to be true. Also, be wary of any requiring a questionnaire or allow the patient to send in their prescription.


In addition to being a safe place to purchase medication online, an established mail-order pharmacy offers convenience. It also supports patient engagement and medication adherence with features such as automatic refill reminders, order tracking, and customer support via phone and email.

Many people visit an online pharmacy for prescription medications because they’re more affordable than a traditional brick-and-mortar pharmacy. However, some pharmacies are not reputable. These sites may send medicine that looks different than the original packaging, sell fake or expired drugs, or charge you for products you never received.

Look for an online pharmacy with a clear and accessible pharmacist contact line and website that allows you to report suspicious pharmacy practices. 


Patients trust their local pharmacists to be a reliable source of medication, and this same level of reliability is crucial when purchasing medications online. But, not all pharmacies that offer low prices are reputable, and according to a study published in PLoS One, many of these pharmacies may be selling counterfeit or substandard drugs.

When choosing a pharmacy, ensure the website has an NABP-accredited pharmacy domain and is verified by the FDA. It’s also important to check that the pharmacy has a physical address rather than a P.O. box, as this could indicate a fake address.

Additionally, look for a pharmacy that offers pharmaceutical professionals available to answer any medication-related questions via phone, email, or live chat. This will provide peace of mind that you’ll receive the best service and support possible.


A pharmacy can help consumers navigate the complexity of drug pricing. For example, a pharmacist can advise on biosimilar solutions that offer cheaper alternatives to insulin for diabetes patients. According to McKinsey research, patients are increasingly open to considering these alternatives to lower their medication costs.

Using the same pharmacy for all prescription services helps ensure that your pharmacist has access to your full medical history, including over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. This information can help prevent medication interactions that may affect how well a new medication works or worsen existing health conditions.

A pharmacy can also help prevent waste. Inefficient systems impose unnecessary costs on the system, which are ultimately passed on to patients. Check out our pharmacy patient bill of rights for more on this.


Licensed mail-order pharmacies can be invaluable for many patients, providing access to medications that otherwise might not be available. They help people with chronic conditions like heart disease, diabetes, cancer, and lung and kidney diseases manage their conditions and improve their quality of life.

Pharmacists have long served as patient care advocates, providing advice on over-the-counter medicines and assisting with prescriptions. As the COVID-19 pandemic has transformed healthcare, pharmacy teams have been on the front lines of expanding pharmacist services to help fill the gaps created by medical distancing and canceled or delayed office appointments.

When choosing an online pharmacy, use one duly accredited and requires a valid prescription from your physician. It should also have an accurate U.S. address and a phone number for customer support.


Choosing a legitimate convenience store or pharmacy is crucial for buying medication or goods. Illegitimate pharmacies can sell medication that the FDA doesn’t regulate or that has been stored improperly, affecting its effectiveness or posing serious risks.

For example, one study found that many prescriptions for brand-name medications such as Viagra (sildenafil citrate) and Lipitor (atorvastatin) were replaced with cheaper drugs that didn’t match the original medication on the prescription. Other illegitimate pharmacies sell controlled substances such as Xanax or Oxycontin, which are illegal to order without a prescription.

For a legitimate pharmacy, look for third-party accreditations such as the NABP’s Safe Pharmacy program. Also, check whether the pharmacy has a physical address in the U.S. or Canada rather than a P.O. box address.