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What Makes Online Pharmacies Different From One Another?

February 3, 2021

online pharmacy safety

More than ever, Americans are straining under the financial pressure of their expensive prescription medications. This has caused many of them to seek relief via online pharmacies, a significant portion of which are based in or dispense medications in Canada.

What often becomes a source of anxiety and confusion is the actual choosing of the online pharmacy. There are a number of reliable online pharmacies, and differentiating between them can be difficult — especially for Americans who aren't familiar with Canadian regulations and certifications as well as international ones.

Here's what you need to know about online pharmacies and how you can differentiate the good ones from the best ones.

Choosing an Online Pharmacy

Making the decision to purchase your medication online, as opposed to going through your local pharmacy can be a nerve-wracking one. How do you know you're choosing the right one for you? How do you know that the one you're going with is legitimate, and that you won't get scammed? How do you know you'll receive the correct medication?

All of these are understandable questions, especially for first time buyers. Learning how to determine which ones are worth your investment and which are not can be confusing, and ultimately, can cause you to abandon your efforts.

Here are some important questions to ask yourself about each online pharmacy you're considering, in addition to some factors that will help the best options stand above the rest.

Absolute Requirements for Online Canadian Pharmacies and Most International Ones

1. Third-Party Certifications

The base minimum requirement for your choice in online Canadian pharmacies and others located outside the USA should be that they're certified by the Canadian International Pharmacy Association (CIPA). In order to be CIPA-certified, the company must meet the following criteria:

  • Must require valid and signed prescriptions (typically for 30 to 90-day supplies of drugs and health maintenance medications)
  • Must obtain demographic and medical information from the patient and maintain a health profile with medication history to avoid adverse drug interactions
  • Must have a licensed pharmacist on staff for patient consultation
  • Must not sell controlled substances
  • Must maintain patient privacy by following similar stringent confidentiality and safety procedures as U.S. pharmacies

Furthermore, CIPA doesn't allow their members to send unwarranted emails to their customers, nor to sell their email addresses to other companies for solicitation purposes. Online pharmacies that are CIPA-certified are granted a special CIPA seal to use on their website and promotional materials.

If one or more of the online pharmacy's dispensing pharmacies is licensed in the Canadian province of British Columbia, they will also be certified by the International Pharmacy Association of British Columbia (IPABC), which follows the same guidelines as CIPA.

2. Number of Prescriptions Filled

Looking at the number of prescriptions the online pharmacy in question has filled can provide some insight into how much people trust the company and how long it's been in business.

If people have negative experiences, they aren't going to come back — and that's going to keep the total number of filled prescriptions down.

If an online pharmacy has filled a lot of prescriptions, that also shows experience. A pharmacy with millions of filled prescriptions has been doing it for a long time — and likely has perfected the process.

We're proud to say that we've filled over 3 million prescriptions at NorthWestPharmacy.com. That sets us apart from the competition — few, if any, can come close.

3. Positive Reviews

One of the best indicators of a quality online pharmacy is the number of positive reviews they have. This metric can actually provide a more accurate representation of the type of experiences customers have with the company. While not every customer will leave a review, it's worth noting that people who have a negative experience are more likely to leave a negative review (and tell all their friends about it), than people who have had positive experiences. So if an online pharmacy has a lot of positive reviews, it's worth taking note.

Furthermore, analyzing the data within this metric can shed some light on overall customer satisfaction. How many of them are negative and how many are positive? For example, we have over 375,000 customer reviews, 95% of which are overwhelmingly positive. If an online pharmacy has 200,000 customer reviews and 50% are positive reviews, leaving the remaining 50% to be relatively negative, what does that say about the company?

It's your decision to make, but we'd rather go with a company that customers seem to be very satisfied with overall, especially when it comes to ordering life-saving medication.

What Makes NorthWestPharmacy.com Stand Above the Rest

1. Price

Of course, price is going to be a factor in your search and that is perfectly understandable — in many cases, it's literally the reason you're researching online Canadian pharmacies in the first place. While you're likely to find a lower price just by looking online (because the prices in the U.S. are so expensive), prices between online pharmacies can vary depending on a number of factors, including where and how they source their products and the procedures they take in dispensing as well as the pharmacist counseling and overall service they provide, or don't provide.

We're dedicated to finding the best possible price for your medication. In fact, we're so intent on providing you with the lowest price that we provide a lowest price guarantee — if you find your medication cheaper elsewhere from a CIPA-certified site, we'll beat it.

One of the reasons that NorthWestPharmacy.com is able to offer a lowest price guarantee is that we source our prescription medications from reputable suppliers all over the world. This means that your medication might be cheapest from one of our vetted sources in the United Kingdom, so that's where we get it from for you.

Best of all, we have a perfect safety record.

Your medication's packaging may look different because the same medications are sometimes marketed under different names in different countries as a result of market research or translation issues. For example, Advair is marketed under the name Sereflo in Europe and other regions, so if you order brand name Advair from NorthWestPharmacy.com, it's possible that you'll get a product that looks just like the one you're used to, but in different packaging.

2. CIPA-Certified Partners

Speaking of our pharmacy and supply partners, we're very selective about which suppliers we approve and order the medication from. We take safety very seriously. In order to maintain the highest standards, we only approve a trusted and vetted supply network of pharmacies that are CIPA-certified.

That means that we take significant steps in ensuring the safety and integrity throughout the entire supply chain from start to finish. CIPA-certified pharmacies are all held to high safety standards.

3. Larger Supply

Because we source our prescriptions from multiple different sources, we're able to secure larger inventories at volume discounts, which helps us keep the price down. Typically, when there are supply shortages of products, the prices goes up, which is obviously not ideal if you're searching online for cheaper medication.

So even if we're out of a particular drug at our main facility, we can often source the necessary medication from another CIPA-certified supplier that has the inventory, and often at the same price. That's especially important in this era of significant drug shortages.

4. Highly Qualified Pharmacists

Much like in the USA, licensed pharmacists dispense every prescription medication shipped to our customers. In order to obtain CIPA or IPABC certification, pharmacists must verify prescriptions and possible issues, just as your local pharmacist would, and be available to provide you with medication counseling.

When you place an order with NorthWestPharmacy.com, you'll need to provide a valid prescription from a doctor. Upon receipt of your prescription, we verify that it's authentic and accurate, and then our pharmacists will double check that there are no known drug interactions of concern with any other medications you're already taking. If everything checks out, they'll authorize the medication to be shipped to you.

Pharmacists that dispense prescription drugs for our patients have a significant amount of experience and are dedicated to keeping their patients safe.

In fact, two important aspects of our business are the quality of pharmacists and our customer service center, which we'll get into next.

5. Unparalleled Customer Service

Customer service has always been a major focus of our business. We understand that ordering medication online can be a nerve-wracking experience, especially when you're doing it for the first time. It's imperative that you be able to call to speak to a human when you're having trouble or need nuanced questions answered.

While we have a frequently asked questions page on our website, we're well aware that an FAQ isn't enough to meet the demands of customers. Sometimes, you just need to ask a question and hear the answer for yourself. Some of our customers just want some assistance getting through the ordering process — having someone on the phone with them to walk through the steps gives them more confidence in NorthWestPharmacy.com as an organization.

In a day and age where everything seems to be automated, it's a rarity to find a service center that is not only local, but actually helpful. We are extremely proud of the lengths our call center will go to in order to make sure that a customer is happy. We really value our customers — and our call center team is always willing to go above and beyond to make sure that they're happy.

For your convenience, our call center is open seven days a week. You can also email us and we'll typically get back to you by the following business day.

How Do You Know Which Online Pharmacy is Best?

We do hope that you'll trust us with your pharmaceutical needs, but regardless of which online pharmacy you choose, make sure they meet the requirements we listed above (third-party certifications, high volume of prescriptions filled, and overwhelmingly positive reviews).

We may be biased, but we believe we're the best online pharmacy out there. We have hundreds of thousands of positive reviews through Shopper Approved, in addition to nearly 9,000 reviews giving a cumulative score of 4.8/5 on sites like Trustpilot, which bases their reviews entirely on customer service and feedback. We are very proud of our customer service representatives and the amount of effort they put into each call they take.

We are confident that this is a major differentiator in a time when so many items are purchased online and it's difficult to get in touch with an actual person or get a genuinely good service experience.

Getting Started with Online Pharmacy

If you've never purchased your prescription medication from an online pharmacy, it's completely normal to feel a bit nervous. To help you feel more comfortable, we have plenty of resources available on our website, such as special feature articles that dig into more specific topics and medications, how-to-order pages, and a frequently asked questions page.

But as we said, we're available seven days a week via our toll-free number. We're happy to answer any and all of your questions — no matter how silly they may seem to you. We want you to feel comfortable that you're making the right decision in your online Canadian pharmacy and international drugstore.

Our representatives truly enjoy helping our customers and potential customers. They're dedicated to their jobs and the NorthWestPharmacy.com mission of delivering high quality, accurate prescription medications to people who need them at an affordable price. This is a cornerstone of our business.

If you have any questions at all about ordering your medication, what methods of payment we accept, or how this all works, feel free to contact us today. We're more than happy to talk to you about any of your concerns.

Our toll free number is 1-866-539-5330, but if you're catching us in our off-hours, you can always leave a message or email us. We'll get back to you promptly.

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