Does mail-order vs. retail matter when I’m getting a prescription?


If you need a short-term prescription, such as an antibiotic or a painkiller for an injury, it's best to purchase the prescription from a nearby pharmacy so you can get the prescription quickly. However, if you have a long-term prescription -- medicine that you'll take on an regular basis -- you may want to consider using a mail-order pharmacy. Legitimate mail order pharmacies may allow you to purchase a 90 day supply at once and save you time and money when you have prescription drug coverage through your insurance.

Consider the following before choosing a mail-order pharmacy:

  • Before you sign up with a mail order pharmacy, check the prices.  Legitimate mail-order pharmacies may have high retail prices but your out of pocket cost (copay) is likely to be very low.  If the retail price of the drugs is too good to be true, it is probably a scam; the drugs may not be approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
  • Look for a VIPPS seal. If a website has the seal, it means it is among the "Verified Internet Pharmacy Practice Sites" and approved by the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy.
  • Ensure that there's a pharmacist that you can call, e-mail, or chat with online if you have any questions. If not, consider purchasing your prescription elsewhere.
  • Make sure the mail-order pharmacy asks for your prescription. If it doesn't, it may not be legitimate, and you could get the wrong medication.