The meaning of the common expression “online pharmacy” is often reduced to online sales of medicinal and accompanying assortment. But Canadian regulated industry has its own specifics. In particular, online sales of drugs cannot be carried out as a separate independent business without being tied to a really functioning pharmacy company and its license.
With the advent of pharma markets, an open display system of the OTC assortment has been developed. The possibilities of the World Wide Web have enriched the pharmaceutical retailers with another form of presenting goods to the buyer – online. Some consider this form to be just a virtual version of an open display, but this is not quite the case. As part of an open display, a visitor gets the opportunity of free direct contact with the goods offered and information about them. In the format of the virtual display, the first option is naturally unavailable, and the buyer’s attention is focused on the second one — actively obtaining (through network capabilities) comprehensive information about the pharmacy products of interest.
What is OTC medications? Read information from FDA: https://www.fda.gov/drugs/buying-using-medicine-safely/understanding-over-counter-medicines
In this perspective, many of the advantages of Bioblast pharma online display become apparent. A consumer who uses the Internet takes an opportunity to get acquainted with its assortment before buying. At home or in the office, he can carefully study instructions of various drugs posted on the website, which is especially convenient, since in the pharmacy room, it is almost always necessary to do it standing, often in the context of lack of time, as well as numerous distractions. The prices for purchasing online are sometimes quite generous in addition to multiple bonuses, coupons and discounts.
Moreover, many online pharmacies’ websites give the opportunity to get acquainted with the appearance (packaging) of the requested drug and read articles on the topic of interest. Of course, a number of online pharma retailers have difficulties in determining any statistics in this area. And yet, in connection with properly informing customers during the online sales of drugs, one should pay particular attention to a negative tendency. Unfortunately, an increasing number of online pharma stores inform visitors of their website about drugs not by publishing instructions for use, but by using information usually obtained from various reference books. Therefore, each online pharmaceutical store is obliged to post full texts of leaflets for all drugs offered on its website instead of replacing them with alternative reference material.
Unlimited Offer and Perfect Service
The possibilities of the Internet (with proper maintenance of the website) allow an almost unlimited increase in the size of the virtual storefront space of any offline pharmacy. If, in addition to this, the online display of the assortment is built on the portal in a simple and user-friendly way, there is another explanation why, in response to the increasing demand from consumers, the number of virtual pharmacies is steadily increasing.
Of course, there is a certain percentage of visitors (mostly elderly) who cannot get used to any technical innovations and require live communication with a pharmacist. Such people often come for some medicine to an offline store. They treat a pharmacist almost as a doctor and adviser on everyday issues receiving from him not only medication, but also partly psychological help. Nevertheless, quality consulting services of a pharmaceutical specialist may be needed by anyone, regardless of age, status, etc. Therefore, modern online pharmacies make sure to render adequate consumer counseling.
Today in the online pharmacies, a doctor and a pharmacist become a single team, coherently pursuing one fundamental goal – patient’s health. With the scanned copy of original doctor’s prescription, there is a perfect interaction between them. At this stage, Rx drugs are not generally excluded from the online-assortment of pharmacies.
The possibility to have medicines delivered directly to your location from the warehouse of an online store makes our life much easier. All over the world, the sale of drugs is subject to licensing, and on the basis of this, there are rules on which drugs can be dispensed only by the pharmacist (Rx drugs) or under his supervision (OTC product range).
This practice calls into question the legality of the delivery of drugs ordered by telephone or via the Interne by couriers who are not specialists. This regulatory obstacle is one of the reasons why in most European countries the pharmacy Internet business has not yet been widely developed. They realize that the pharmacy worker, who transports medicine is obliged to ensure the proper quality of drug storage during its delivery, must inform the patient, in particular, about the mode and method of taking the drug, its storage conditions, etc., and if necessary, also professionally answer the questions. Nowadays Canadian online pharmacies have made a real breakthrough in this field.
In general, the Internet offers pharmacies a good reserve of additional opportunities that can and should be used wisely, without damaging the industry, profession and a consumer. Let us summarize the basic principles that will allow implementing a similar approach in the organization of remote sales.
First, it is necessary to take full advantage of the Internet’s benefits in order to expand access for consumers to official and additional reference information about medicines. It would be reasonable to recommend to pharmacies (regardless of whether they practice “www-sales” or not) to place on their website the texts of instructions on the use of drugs.
The remaining conclusions are equally obvious:
- prescription drugs in the on-line assortment are to be sold on prescription only;
- remote delivery of drugs to consumers should be done only by specialists with due regard to customer’s privacy;
- the quality of remote consultation in accordance with the traditionally established rules must be performed by a professional.
As a separate recommendation, it is possible to achieve self-organization, to develop and accept voluntary model standards of remote service. A useful result of such self-organization would be the delegation of special insignia to members of the community (such as “certifying electronic stamps” in Canada), which would serve as confirmation that this online pharmacy adheres to these standards and other voluntary obligations to consumers.
Finally, let us return to where we started this article – to the term online pharmacy, which is ingrained in everyday life. It is, of course, clumsy and creates for some consumers the idea that this is a separate pharmacy company that deals exclusively with online sales. Industry participants need to gradually move away from this definition. At least in order to avoid unnecessary guesswork and to give the consumer to understand that remote sales in the pharmacy are subject to special rules.