Legal Considerations When You Buy Medication Online

By its nature, the law touches on a lot of things, and online pharmacies are no exception. The Internet can be a difficult place for any national government to regulate, since technicalities mean that the web is outside any one country’s actual jurisdiction. Sometimes, this means that industries operating on the Internet are best left to organize and police themselves. However, there are local laws that can still affect how an online drugstore can do business.

Importation controls

Within the United States – and possibly other countries – there are two laws that govern certain limitations on what can be imported or purchased from online pharmacies. The first is 21 USC, Section 952. This particular law makes it illegal for importation of a restricted drug from overseas, carrying a fine of up to $250,000 and a sentence of up to five years. This applies to any non-narcotic product that is listed as a controlled substance.

online pharmacy

The other law is 21 USC, Section 844 , which renders possession of a controlled substance without any valid prescription as illegal. The Food and Drug Administration does not recognize online prescription services as falling under the definition of “legal,” so any patient that purchases such substances must provide a real prescription from their personal physician if he attempts to buy medication online. Some online pharmacies have contested this ruling, but for the time being, the FDA remains firm on the matter.

There are, however, some minor exceptions. Sections 956 and 1301 of the same law allows for travelers to bring in small quantities of those substances into and out of the United States in person. There are strict limitations for this: all of them must be declared, and all the paperwork must be done properly. Finally, this transport cannot be done by mail, leaving out the possibility of purchase from online pharmacies.

21 USC, Section 301(aa)

This is a crucial law for anyone who purchases from an online drugstore. This law allows people to import medication from Canada, provided the seller is registered with the FDA. The drug must also be for personal use only and not for re-sale, and the quantity is limited to a 90-day supply. The law makes it mandatory for other things, such as a copy of a valid prescription, to be present. Naturally, only medications allowed or approved by the FDA for use are covered by this law.

The laws and regulations set by the FDA can be difficult, though enforcement is notably lax. In addition, a number of organizations are trying to improve the recognition of online pharmacies as legitimate ways to acquire medication. For the time being, however, the law only allows these things under strict and specific guidelines.

Michael Ulrich

Michael Ulrich

Dr. Michael Ulrich has more than8 years of experience as a pharmacist and pharmacy director specializing in clinical pharmacy, clinical information systems, safe medication practice, quality improvement. Highlights of his experience include serving as the Director/Manager of Inpatient Pharmacy & Safe Medication Practice Pharmacist at Sharp Memorial Hospital in San Diego. I have Extensive knowledge in Board of Pharmacy regulations and over 8 years of experience in pharmacy services and standards of practice.

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