When the Bureau of Economic Research indicates that US pharmacies on average charge 52.5 percent more for the five top-selling brand-name medicines, people in need of regular medication often have to seek out cheaper online options.

Scientific study regarding online pharmacies

The scientific investigation titled “Unveiling the Mystery of Online Pharmacies: An Audit study” was conducted by Roger Bate, Ph.D., and Aparna Mathur, Ph.D., of the American Enterprise Institute, along with Ginger Zhe Jin, Ph.D., from the University of Maryland Department of Economics.

The audit, performed in two rounds between 2009 and 2011, analyzed several popular maintenance medications and one lifestyle product; that is, a total of 370 samples from 41 individual U.S. and Canadian or international online pharmacy websites. The majority of the website sources, and all of the Canadian sites, were accredited.

Seniors affected

Buying medicines online is convenient and can save you up to 35 percent, according to Consumer Reports. That’s particularly appealing to seniors, 90 percent of whom rely on prescription medicines on a regular basis. About 12 percent say they have had to forgo prescribed medications in the past year due to escalating drug prices.

Making informed decisions about buying medications online

To help you make an informed choice, and as part of their mission to protect the public’s health, National Association of Boards of Pharmacies (NABP) and the Canadian International Pharmacy Association (CIPA) has reviewed, and continues to review, thousands of Web sites to determine if they maintain safe pharmacy practices.

Comparison shopping

According to CIPA, their prices amount to as much as 80 percent less than the price of similar medications available through U.S. pharmacies.

CIPA pharmacies follow the same prescription process as U.S. mail-order companies. They require a valid and signed prescription from the patient’s doctor or health care provider. And they provide the same quality controls and convenience of U.S. mail-order services, which allows consumers to maintain their health with name-brand pharmaceuticals delivered directly to their homes.

You can also compare prices on many different sites such as eDrugSearch.com or Pharmacychecker.com which do comparisons among various online pharmacies. Having your doctor prescribe generic versus name-brand drugs will also cut your costs significantly.

Difference between generic and name-brand medications

A generic prescription is a drug manufactured by a company that did not develop the drug initially. Once a drug has been on the market for a period of time, other manufacturers are allowed to produce and sell the exact medication at a lower and more competitive price.

The generic drug is exactly the same medication as the original brand-name drug, but it’s made by another company. Due to strict regulations on the generic drug industry, these drugs must supply the same therapeutic effect as the brand-name drug.

Recommended international online prescription service

Since 2001 the international prescription fulfillment agency known as planetdrugsdirect.com, which is a member of the Canadian International Pharmacy Association (CIPA), has helped hundreds of thousands of patients obtain safe and affordable prescription drugs. The company offers rigorous quality control including full-time licensed physicians who oversee and review industry standards on an ongoing basis.

In some cases, planetdrugsdirect.com can offer discounts of up to 90 percent off in-store retail pricing.

Purchasing prescriptions online needs to be done cautiously, but with companies like planetdrugsdirect.com, you can be assured that by saving cost, you don’t sacrifice quality, or receive medications that do not meet approved standards.