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Cyber-medicine, cyber-pharmacies and the business of trading drugs over the Internet

Cyber-medicine or cyber-pharmacies are nothing knew to web users. Just as every other thing sold online, medications are becoming popular online sales items. Online drugstores and pharmacies are mushrooming all over the world so much so authorities are still struggling to set proper regulations on the industry. Let’s take a look at the three different kinds of cyber-pharmacies prevalent in the current scenario and the kind of cyber-medicines they sell.

Cyber-medicine and Cyber-pharmacies: Cyber-pharmacies can be online pharmacies, drugstores or stores that sell and prescribe medications online. The medications they sell online is called cyber-medicine. The business of trading drugs online started with the evolution of eCommerce sites, especially pet foods and medications. Since pet medications were a huge hit, many offline pharmacies started selling drugs online. It all started with Mail Order Pharmacies, where one had to mail the pharmacy and order the medications required. Gradually, online pharmacies grew rapidly and established themselves as convenient, cheaper and easier drugstores than brick and mortar pharmacies.

Types of Cyber-pharmacies

Cyber-pharmacies or online pharmacies can be distinguished into three different types based on the nature of their businesses:
1. Pharmacies that operate online: These are pharmacy-only sites. These maybe offline pharmacies that may operate online too. These online pharmacies start processing your medications only if you fax them your prescription from a licensed doctor. In this way they work exactly like offline pharmacies, only difference is they operate online. So far the legal problems faced by such pharmacies are very minimal. As they operate in a proper way, they do not sell fake or wrong medications. Since they require prescriptions from doctors, they are not accused of prescribing wrong drugs too.

2. Pharmacies that prescribe medications: These are pharmacies that are a combination of both doctors and pharmacies. They do not just sell medications, they prescribe them too. If a patient has a health disorder, the pharmacy’s in-house doctor examines the patient and then, prescribes him or her medications. Usually this ordering is from the pharmacy to which the doctor is affiliated to. In most of the cases, the pharmacy, the doctor and the patient maybe located in three different states. The doctor examines the patient through an online questionnaire and then, if required, goes in for video conferencing. These pharmacies are criticized the most as they encourage people to buy drugs without  a physical examination by doctors. Since prescriptions based on questionnaires can go awfully wrong, many critics and health care associations condemn these types of pharmacies.

3. Online drugstores that do not require prescription: Other than the above mentioned pharmacies, there are pharmacies  that sell drugs in a rather forceful way, through aggressive marketing or promotion. Such pharmacies are basically online drugstores which do not require prescriptions from patients. Buying drugs from an online drugstore is just like buying books or music online. You login to the site, shop and get your package delivered at home. But these kinds of drugstores are illegal in the United States. The U.S. Food and Drug Association (FDA) along with National Association of Board of Pharmacies (NABP) regulates such illegal and forceful means of selling drugs. However, there are numerous foreign pharmacies practicing such medication-selling. Since the FDA has no control over such online pharmacies based in other countries, it warns people to be careful while buying drugs from abroad.

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Cyber-medicine, cyber-pharmacies and the business of trading drugs over the Internet

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