In today’s modern internet age, you can get almost anything you need at the click of a button through the amazing innovations of online ordering, shipping, and delivery. You can order anything from bicycle parts and high heels to bedroom furniture and groceries for your next meal.
Whatever it is that you are ordering, most people agree that online shopping has made our daily lives easier. People spend less time commuting out to stores and waiting in line and more time prioritising other errands, getting more work done, or seeing friends and family.
But of all the things to order online, did you know that now you can even get your medicine that way? The development and growth of online pharmacies in recent years has made that an exciting option at your disposal. Before implementing online pharmacies into your daily life, it is important to learn more about them and how they operate.
History of the Online Pharmacy
Believe it or not, online pharmacies in the UK have been around for almost 20 years. The first online pharmacy in the UK actually began in 1999 with a company called Pharmacy2U. Pharmacy2U was first founded by a man named Daniel Lee. Prior to launching Pharmacy2U, Lee worked at a local pharmacy business that his family owned in Leeds. Since then, Pharmacy2U has continued to be an active UK based online pharmacy.
Throughout the 2000s, the scope and nature of the online pharmaceutical industry continued to grow and change. Following Lee’s first business, more online pharmacies began to crop up.
However, this change also brought with it more questions and problems to address, mainly concerning matters of legality and consumer safety. Because the industry continued to grow, online pharmacy services became a considerable public health and safety area of focus.
For this reason, throughout the 2000s, the UK witnessed integral legislation put in place in order to better regulate online pharmacies and their participants. In 2005, the National Health Service (or NHS) in the United Kingdom legalised the filling of NHS prescriptions over the internet. The UK also requires online pharmacies to use specialised logos for identification and keep an active registration through the Medicines and Products Regulatory Agency. This includes a specialised digital logo as well. This digital logo is used for companies across the EU. Today there are over 40 registered online pharmacies throughout the UK.
One of the great things about getting your prescriptions filled through a legitimate online pharmacy is the fact that you can get your medicine delivered to your home. However, when it comes to getting medicine delivered through traditional mail systems, there are some potential dangers.
Your medicine runs the risk of being damaged through the delivery system process or through time and temperature exposure. When getting sensitive medicines delivered through the mail, try and take precautions to ensure the safety of your parcels and the materials that they contain. Some of these precautions include using express mail systems or insulated shipping containers.
Online Pharmacies and Online Clinics
Oftentimes, online pharmacies are closely linked to online clinics. Many online pharmacies also offer online clinic services through their company or a related company. People who use online clinics can get certain prescriptions after consulting with an online doctor. You may be wondering how a person can consult with an online doctor without an in-person physical examination.
Although it is true that an actual physical examination with a doctor is always the better option when it comes to diagnosing issues, online clinics have their use as well. Doctors that work for online clinics, all of whom must be registered with the Care Quality Commission, can conduct their online consultations in a variety of ways. They often incorporate specially designed questionnaires. However, online clinics have certain limitations on the number of prescriptions they can give out in addition to other established regulations.
Different Structures of Online Pharmacies
As with any corporation or business, there are different ways that a pharmacy can be structured. This is true for online pharmacies as well. In addition, due to its online nature, there are extra elements to understand when it comes to online pharmacies. For example, there are different types of online pharmacies. Some of the different types of online pharmacies that exist include internal online pharmacies, external online pharmacies, and pharmacy benefit managers.
Where Are Online Pharmacies Based?
Internal online pharmacies are online pharmacies that are based out of the same country as the person ordering the medicine over the internet. For example, if you live in the United Kingdom and order from a company that is based in a city inside the UK, then they would be an internal online pharmacy.
Alternatively, external online pharmacies are based in a different country than the person ordering the medicine. These external online pharmacies are still monitored and regulated by the UK government but also abide by regulations and license requirements of the company’s home country.
Pharmacy Benefit Managers
Online pharmacies might also include a pharmacy benefit manger. A pharmacy benefit manager is most common in the United States and is a type of administrator that operates like a third party administrating certain prescription drug programs. Some of these prescription drug programs include the Federal Employees Health Benefit Program, commercial health plans, state government employee plans, Medicare related plans, as well as self-insured employer plans.
Becoming a Smart Consumer
Online pharmacies can be a great tool to utilise in order to make our busy lives a little more efficient. However, it is incredibly important to be a smart online consumer, especially when it comes to ordering prescription medicines online. Many online pharmacies out there are great, do honest business, and have become valuable parts of their customers’ lives. However, there are also individuals out there who use the online pharmaceutical industry in deceitful and harmful ways. When it comes to selecting the online pharmacy that you want to conduct business with, you should make sure that it is a trusted and reputable company that is also regulated by a governing body.