Quick Ways to Tell If an Online Pharmacy Is Safe

Erin Sandberg
Sep 4 · 3 min read

It might be easier than you think.

Photo by LinkedIn Sales Navigator on Unsplash

Buying prescription medication online is a new idea for many people. And for some, it’s a little nerve-wracking. How can they tell if they’re really getting a good deal? And, more importantly, how do they know if the medication they’re purchasing is safe, legitimate and FDA-approved?

We get it. When you order from Blink, you can have the peace of mind that the medications you receive are the same FDA-approved versions you could pick up at your local pharmacy (in fact, you can pick them up at a local pharmacy after paying on Blink, if that’s more convenient for you).

But that safety doesn’t come from all online pharmacies or other e-commerce sites selling prescription drugs. That’s why we put together a collection of tips for spotting legitimate online pharmacies and staying away from the illegal, dangerous ones.

When purchasing medication online, safety is the most important thing

While there are many safe and legal online pharmacies in the US, there are even more unsafe and illegal online pharmacies that target patients and expose their health and financial information to great risk. Illegal online pharmacies may sell pills that do nothing at all, or worse, pills that could really hurt you.

In a 2016 analysis, The Center for Safe Internet Pharmacies found that there were around 30,000–35,000 websites selling prescription drugs. The scary part? They estimated that 96% of these online pharmacies did not adhere to legal and safety requirements, leaving only 4% operating lawfully.

How to stay safe when purchasing medication online

Several trusted sources, including the FDA and safe.pharmacy, have put together guidelines for safely purchasing medications online, along with warning signs that a website may be illegal and/or unsafe.

Look for online pharmacies that:

  • Require a valid prescription
  • Have a physical address in the US
  • Are licensed by the state board of pharmacy in your state
  • Have a licensed pharmacist available to answer questions

Avoid online pharmacies that:

  • Do not require a valid prescription
  • Ship worldwide
  • Ship from countries outside the US
  • Are based outside the US

See the FDA’s full list of warning signs.

Verify the site on safe.pharmacy
The National Association of Boards of Pharmacy (NABP) verifies that online pharmacies and pharmacy-related websites (like Blink Health) are safe and legal. See if your online pharmacy or pharmacy-related website is verified.

Online pharmacies and websites to avoid

Safe.pharmacy has a list of websites that it deems “out of compliance with state and federal laws or NABP patient safety and pharmacy practice standards.” Here’s their list of “not recommended sites.”

The FDA has also published a list of online pharmacy websites it has deemed illegal or dangerous, and to which it has sent warning letters.

Taking the time to do your research before purchasing can help keep your health and personal information safe. The extra effort is worth it.

Blink Health is not insurance. The discount prescription drug provider is Blink Health Administration, LLC, 536 Broadway, 2nd Floor, New York, NY 10012, (844) 366–2211, www.blinkhealth.com


Healthcare and the prescription drug industry are complicated. That’s why Blink Unscripted is here. To help you understand it a little better so you can get and do what you need to be healthy.

Erin Sandberg

Written by

Writer at Blink Health, seeking to help people understand and navigate the prescription drug landscape // Master of Science in Health Communication


Healthcare and the prescription drug industry are complicated. That’s why Blink Unscripted is here. To help you understand it a little better so you can get and do what you need to be healthy.

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