Everything you need to know about buying medicines safely online
Buying medicines online is easier than ever, with reputable pharmacists (like ourselves!) choosing to open online stores for the convenience of people all over the country.
No more waiting around at your local Chemist, queueing to collect your prescription or just to pick up some over the counter cough medicine, just order it online, make a cup of tea, and wait for it to arrive.
It’s easy, it’s convenient, but is it safe? How do you know that the online pharmacy you’re ordering from is legal, regulated, and perfectly safe to order from?
Today we’re going to show you what you should look for on an online pharmacy website, like Chemist 4 U, so you can be sure that you’re in good, safe hands.
How do I know that an online pharmacy is safe and legal?
There are a few really simple signs you can look for on an online pharmacy site that will tell you that the site is safe.
Some of them are logos from regulating bodies that all pharmacies, whether they’re online or in brick and mortar stores, have to be registered with.
Other signs can be seen in the site itself and how it works. Let’s begin by taking a look at the logos you’ll be able to see on any reputable online pharmacy site, and where you can find them on our own website.
What logos will a regulated online pharmacy use?
Some of the logos you’ll see on a pharmacy’s website will tell you that this pharmacy is registered and operating legally in the UK.
On the Chemist 4 U website you’ll find ours in the same place on every page, the bottom right hand corner. Go ahead, scroll down and take a look, they’ll be right there at the bottom.
Click to any other page on our site and you’ll find them, waiting to say hi and tell you that Chemist 4 U is a safe, regulated pharmacy that can provide your medicines whenever you need them, they’re pretty friendly like that!
Let’s say hello to both of them now, and find out some more information about what they mean.
The General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) logo
The General Pharmaceutical Council, or GPhC for short, are a regulating body that keep an eye on pharmacists, pharmacies, and pharmacy technicians in Great Britain.
They make sure that all pharmacies, online or in person, live up to the high standards that they need to provide safe and effective care for their patients.
All pharmacies need to be registered and regulated with the GPhC to be able to operate legally in the UK, and when a pharmacy has registered with them they’re given a handy little logo with that pharmacy’s registration number to use on their site.
The logo looks like this, and it links back to the GPhC’s registration page, so you’ll be able to double check that the online pharmacy you’re looking for is legitimate.
Here’s what ours looks like, give it a click and you’ll see that we’re legal and above board.
The EU Common logo
The second of our logos is the EU Common logo, which sits right next to the GPhC logo on our site.
This logo shows that a pharmacy is registered with the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency, or MHRA, which is a legal requirement for every online pharmacy in the EU.
This logo has to be displayed on every page of a website that is selling medicines, so if you find a site where medicines are sold and this logo isn’t there, then that should raise some serious red flags.
Just like our GPhC logo, if you click on the EU Common logo it should take you to the registration page for that pharmacy, give ours a click and you’ll see what I mean! Go ahead, you know you want to.
Are there any other signs I can look for if I’m not sure this website is safe?
So now we know that our online pharmacy is all properly regulated and legal, what else can we look for to make sure that your order is in safe hands?
There are a few details about the pharmacy’s website itself that will tell you that you’re making the best choice with your medicine order.
Is the website secure?
One of the first things you may notice about a safe website is right at the top of the page.
The little bar where you type in a website’s address (for example, www.chemist-4-u.com) will be able to tell you if a website if properly secured using a feature called HTTPS.
This stands for Hyper Text Transfer Protocol Secure, which sounds complicated, but basically means that any information that goes between you and the website is securely encrypted, so nobody else would be able to read it.
The way you can tell whether a site is using HTTPS is by looking at the website’s address bar at the top of the page.
Next to the web address of the site you’re on, you’ll be able to see a little padlock (which is green on a lot of browsers) next to the letters https, on some browsers you might also see the word ‘secure’ or the name of the security certificate up there too.
If you spot this then good news! The website is safe and you’re good to go and make your order.
You’ll see this little padlock icon on lots of websites that you’d expect to be secure, like your online banking site and, of course, the Chemist 4 U website.
Does the website look good?
Take a look at the online pharmacy you’re potentially going to place an order with.
Does their website look like it was put together by professional designers and web technicians? Or does it look like it was cobbled together in five minutes by someone who has no idea what they’re doing?
This can be a pretty clear sign about the company you’re dealing with and how seriously it takes its customer experience.
Think of it like this, if a dodgy looking person came up to you in the street and offered you some co-codamol for a discount price, would you take it? Of course not!
You’d walk down the road to a registered pharmacy and buy your medicine from somewhere you know is safe and regulated. It’s no different when you’re shopping online.
Do they communicate properly?
You can check out how a company communicates before and after you’ve placed an order, and all of their communications with you as a customer should be friendly and professional.
Look at their site, are they clear about how you can contact them and when? Is the site full of spelling mistakes, or is their grammar good enough for an English teacher to give them an A+? Is there a phone number, an email address, or even a social media account you can speak to them on?
If a pharmacy is reputable, they’ll have a way for you to speak to them so you can be sure you’re dealing with a site you can trust.
For example, our contact centre team is available to speak to you every weekday between the hours of 9 and 5, so you can give us a call, drop us an email, or even send us a Facebook message between those times and you’ll get a response from us right away.
As well as that, our pharmacists are available to talk to you via email between 8:30 and 5:30 every weekday too, so there's always someone on hand to answer your questions.
After you’ve placed an order, a reputable pharmacist will send you an invoice with what you’ve ordered, the price, the delivery costs and estimated times, and all of the other good stuff you’d expect to find there.
If communication when your order has been placed isn’t great, you should start asking some questions.
Why do I have to answer questions to buy some medicines from an online pharmacy?
When you order some products from an online pharmacy, you should have to answer some questions from a pharmacist before your order will be able to be placed.
These are the kinds of questions that a pharmacist in a brick and mortar store would ask you when you were at the counter, before giving you your medicine.
All pharmacists are legally required to answer these questions when they’re providing medicines that can only be provided over the counter by a pharmacist, and they help the pharmacist to be sure that the medicine you’re requesting is actually the best thing for you.
Take a look at some of the medicines I’ve linked to below, they’re all pharmacy medicines and you would need to answer questions to buy them.
Click on any one of them and try to add it to your shopping cart, before you’ll be able to continue you’ll have to answer a quick questionnaire from our pharmacists so they’ll know whether this medicine is the best thing for you or not. Go ahead, try it out!
Will I still need a prescription to order prescription medicines from an online pharmacy?
There are some medicines that need to be prescribed by a doctor before your pharmacist can give them to you, and this holds true for online and offline pharmacies.
For example, if you need antibiotics for an infection then these can only be prescribed by a doctor and you’ll need to give your pharmacist your prescription before they can give you your medication.
So yes, you can order your prescription medications from an online pharmacy like ourselves, but we’ll need to see your prescription first.
One of the easiest ways to do this is by signing up to our Electronic Prescription Service, which means that whenever you’re given a prescription or order a repeat prescription from your doctor, it will be sent straight to us so we can deliver it right to your door.
Now you have all of the information you need to make the right decision when you choose your online pharmacist, and we’re sure you’ll make the right choice with your order.
And just in case you needed a little more convincing, everyone here at Chemist 4 U would like you to know just how great you’re looking today.
Seriously, did you do something new with your hair? Because wow! Okay, okay, I’ll stop trying to convince you, just take a look at our site, it speaks for itself!