How to Check Out Online Pharmacies Before You Buy From Them

paying drugs medication pharmacy

Elisabeth is a 13-time Emmy-winner, a critically acclaimed personal finance author and a 20-year consumer advocate for programs such as Good Morning America and The Dr. Oz Show. Connect with her on Twitter @ElisabethLeamy and on her website,

When The Dr. Oz Show asked me to investigate how Americans could get their prescription medications — including increasingly pricy generics — for less, I suggested an experiment where we shopped around at all sorts of different pharmacies and priced common medications to see the differences in price.

The results were jaw dropping. A 30-day supply of one common medication ranged in price from $10.50 to $150! A month’s supply of another went all the way from $14 to $434!

Three purchasing methods were clustered at the rock bottom price-wise:

  1. Warehouse store Costco, which allows non-members to access its pharmacy.
  2. Blink Health, a new free app that uses the purchasing power of its large membership to wrangle amazing discounts.
  3. And some of the legitimate online pharmacies we contacted.
Look for the VIPPS seal

Look for this seal when purchasing from online pharmacies.

All of these are tremendous resources that you should check out if you’re struggling to pay for medications that you need. And since I know many people are nervous about ordering medications on the internet, I vowed on the air that I would post a step-by-step guide to vetting online pharmacies. It’s very simple.

Here’s what you do:

  • Look for the VIPPS Seal: When you see an Internet pharmacy with a favorable price on the medication you need, look for the “VIPPS” seal on the site, which stands for “Verified Internet Pharmacy Practice Site.”
  • Click the VIPPS Seal: Click on the seal, and if the pharmacy is legit, you will be linked to the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy for verification. It’s a “living seal.” That way shady pharmacies can’t just throw up a fake seal.
  • Or go straight to NABP. Alternatively, you can go straight to the National Association of Board of Pharmacy homepage and search for verified pharmacies there.
  • What it means: The VIPPS designation assures that the online pharmacy complies with the licensing and inspection requirements of the state where it is located.