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Advantages and Disadvantages of Online Pharmacies

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Discuss in depth the advantages and disadvantages of online pharmacies. What ethical dilemmas do they pose? Would you consider purchasing medication from an online pharmacy?

Internet pharmacies have been one of the fastest growing sections of pharmaceutical over last few years, through mixture of lower cost for customer and with the lower operating costs. There is growing concern as well with the growth of online pharmacy and few people called for tighter regulations to be placed on the online pharmacies. As we move forward, the credibility of the online pharmacy and its distributers will be tested. The online pharmacies are having several advantages as well as drawbacks against the conventional services (Stanwick & Stanwick, 2009).

Advantages: One obvious advantage would be is the pharmacy is available seven days a week and twenty-four hours a day. So people can have access any time in the day and night. The biggest advantages that online pharmacies have is that the drugs that you buy, there are often much cheaper than the ones that might be available in other local places. The fact that people can buy cheaper versions of the same drug using searchable databases rather than being limited to the particular brand that local facilities carry means that large savings can be made with every purchase and at the same time internet pharmacies allow patients to check modification profile online. In another advantage, the medications will be delivered to the patient’s home in that may it will be helpful for patients with disabilities, sick or elderly who perhaps cannot easily get around even short distances. This is particularly useful if these kinds of patients are in a fairly remote location, or live somewhere that doesn’t have a large pharmacy. In another aspect, some people feel that service of the internet pharmacy is considered more convenient than traditional pharmacies, when patients trying to obtain what they perceive as embarrassing or sensitive medications (Stanwick & Stanwick, 2009).

Disadvantages: The main disadvantage of course is that the delivery of the items patients buy can take several days and in some cases even a couple of weeks. Of-course, it is not always much good if you are running out and haven’t thought ahead and ordered early. Conventional overnight script filling is another thing that cannot usually be done in this way, although there are now a few companies who guarantee delivery in as little as forty eight hours. There are some concerns about the security of the financial information, transmitted during the transaction and also there is lot concern about the privacy of the patients. Some sites offering pharmaceuticals have recently been found to be selling unsafe medications that arises questions about the integrity of the drugs shipped to patients.

There are questions raised on the quality of the drug information that internet pharmacies provide to the patients. It is difficult to ascertain legality of the online pharmacist and questions may arise whether they have licensed pharmacists are dispensing the drugs and providing consultation with the patients. Even online pharmacist may claim that they are accessible twenty-four hours a day and seven days a week, at times there won’t be any pharmacist available to answer questions when a patient submits the prescription (Stanwick & Stanwick, 2009).

The ethical duty of a pharmacy is to promote a patient’s best interest. However, the online pharmacy poses some of the significant ethical dilemmas. Ethical dilemmas revolve around differentiating and defending concepts of doing right or wrong. It has been difficult task to safeguard and provide justice to the consumers from fraudulent pharmacies selling online pre prescription medicine (Stanwick & Stanwick, 2009). Many in the profession wonder if a regulation agency or government should be interfered with to monitor the authenticity of online medication provider. Additionally, the introduction of digital patient records poses further privacy issues. Online counseling services not only raise ethical questions about privacy, but about the accountability of therapists and doctors, especially if the patient in anonymous. Online pharmacies present ethical dilemmas about regulation and the liability of drug companies. They also present the ethical dilemmas regarding the quality of the drug information that they provide to the patients (Stanwick & Stanwick, 2009).

In the current scenario, my answer would be “NO”. However, I will consider using online pharmacies, when most of the ethical issues resolved or the there are certain strict rules and regulations are in place by the government to check authenticity of online medication provider and the quality of the service and medication, the online pharmacies provide.


Stanwick, P. A., & Stanwick, S. D. (2009). Understanding business ethics. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.

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