The world of pharmacy eCommerce is a mixed bag. Some sites are clearly scams, but others are legitimate enterprises with the technology and security infrastructure to provide customers peace of mind.

Some e-pharmacies are part of large national chains, while others are local “mom and pop” operations that have adopted the Internet to deliver drugs to customers. Whether they operate online, by mail or through a physical storefront, an e-pharmacy must adhere to the same government and consumer demands as a brick-and-mortar drugstore.

Online pharmacies can save customers money, especially if they use generic drugs instead of name brands. Typically, the FDA requires that generic drugs be chemically equivalent to their name-brand counterparts. Generic medications can save consumers 30 percent to 80 percent at the cash register, according to some estimates.

Another advantage of e-pharmacies is their wide range of medicines. In contrast, most traditional stores offer a limited selection of drugs, due to space limitations and the expense of maintaining a stockroom.

A newer kind of e-pharmacy, called a compounding pharmacy, produces medication in-house. These pharmacies can fill prescriptions that may not be available at other pharmacies, such as specialty medications for pets. They can also create personalized doses of medications, which are not necessarily available in traditional pharmacies. In addition, they can help with the cost of medications by creating a formula that is less expensive than a brand-name drug or a combination of drugs. This can be particularly important if a person has insurance, but the medication is not covered by their plan.

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