Study: Online pharmacies approved by offer savings and safety

Are online pharmacies safe and do they make medication more affordable?  A new study published by the National Bureau of Economic Research finds that pharmacies approved in the Verification Program sell safe medication and can help Americans achieve substantial savings.

“We have long known that there are good pharmacies and bad pharmacies online,” said Tod Cooperman, M.D., President of “The new research shows that verification programs like’s allow consumers to safely distinguish between the two.”

By filling 370 prescriptions through 41 online pharmacies and testing the authenticity of the medications received, independent researchers from the American Enterprise Institute in Washington, D.C. found no test failures among online pharmacies verified by third-party verifiers, such as

The study also found that U.S. online pharmacies on average charged 52% more than international online pharmacies for the same products.   Comparing the lowest drug prices from approved pharmacies outside the U.S. to bricks and mortar prices in the U.S., has found the savings to be even greater – an average 80% savings on popular brand name drug products.

American consumers are at a great price disadvantage compared to those in many other countries. In fact, on account of cost alone, 48 million Americans did not fill prescriptions in 2010, according to research from the Commonwealth Fund.

Pharmacies approved by the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy (NABP) or (both of which only approve U.S. pharmacies), or by the Canadian International Pharmacy Association (which approves only non-U.S. pharmacies) were also found to sell authentic products, according to the new study. However, is the only verification group evaluating both U.S. and non-U.S. pharmacies.

Furthermore, as noted in the report, “… since PharmacyChecker is the only verification entity which allows for head to head price comparisons, this may encourage lower search costs and hence lower prices….” The report points out that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration policy of educating consumers to stay away from all non-U.S. online pharmacies is not based on “a careful assessment of drug safety and price savings.”

Nevertheless, programs from the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy and continue to categorize properly verified online pharmacies as “Not Recommended” and “Unapproved.”

The NABP’s Internet Drug Outlet Program is funded in part by Pfizer, which like other pharmaceutical companies, opposes Americans buying safe and more affordable medication from outside the United States.

Gabriel Levitt, Vice President of noted that, “Since drug costs here are prohibitive for millions of Americans, it seems unethical and harmful to the public health that U.S. regulatory authorities dissuade Americans from buying more affordable and safe medication online from pharmacies outside the U.S.

Online pharmacies that are approved members of the Verification Program only dispense from licensed pharmacies; require a valid prescription, encrypt pages on which financial and health information is transmitted; publish a privacy policy that stipulates that a patient’s information is not shared with third parties, and publish valid mailing and phone contact information.

This information is verified by and re-verified throughout the year. Mystery shopping is conducted to make sure sites require prescriptions. Pharmacies must be in compliance with the Ryan Haight Act and those outside the U.S. may not sell controlled substances to American consumers. Pharmacies in certain countries undergo an additional onsite inspection to ensure that high pharmacy standards are being met.

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