Merchant Accounts for Online Pharmacies in Canada, India, US, and the UK
A 2016 report by the Center for Safe Internet Pharmacies (CSIP) found that at any given time there are between 30,000 and 35,000 online pharmacies in operation and that they will account for $75 BILLION in sales this year alone.
Online pharmacies offer patients the convenience of ordering their prescription medications without having to make an extra trip to a physical pharmacy. In addition, for patients who do not have prescription drug coverage, ordering their medications online can save them quite a bit of money.
Why are Online Pharmacies Considered High Risk?
Despite the obvious profitability of online pharmacies, they continue to be classified as high risk businesses by banks and merchant account providers. The reasons behind the classification are many and varied and include:
Almost all online pharmacy transactions are Card Not Present (CNP)
Although some online pharmacies accept other additional forms of payment, credit card and debit card transactions make up the bulk of their sales. Because these orders are placed online or by phone, neither the cardholder nor the debit/credit card is physically present at the point of sale. Card Not Present transactions make it harder to verify the identification of the cardholder, and so there is more risk of fraud and chargebacks.
Online pharmacies are highly regulated and scrutinized
In order to protect consumers, legitimate online pharmacies are subject to a number of restrictions and regulations that they must follow if they want to sell prescription medication online. At a minimum these include:
- The online pharmacy has to be licensed or otherwise recognized as a pharmacy in the jurisdictions where they ship drugs to
- Medications should be sourced from the same country in which the pharmacy is based since shipping prescription drugs from one country to a customer in another country is generally considered illegal
- A valid prescription from a doctor is required for non-OTC (over the counter) medications
- Controlled prescription drugs such as hydrocodone, oxycodone, and others cannot legally be sold online – with or without a prescription
- In the US and Canada online pharmacies are often required to have a licensed pharmacist on staff
Many online pharmacies – even some of those claiming to be US and Canada based – either operate offshore or they source their medications from offshore manufacturers. With regulatory requirements more relaxed than those for US and Canadian pharmacies, the risk of patients receiving counterfeit or expired drugs is significantly increased.
Many online pharmacies are operating illegally
The unfortunate truth is that in the wake of the profitability of legitimate online pharmacies, illegal pharmacies have sprung up seeking to grab their share of profits. In fact, in a recent survey of 11,000 online pharmacies that sell prescription drugs to U.S. consumers, only 1 in 25 were in compliance with U.S. laws and pharmaceutical practice standards. Making matters worse, the World Health Organization estimates that over half of the medications purchased from these illegal online pharmacies are counterfeit.
Does this mean that all online pharmacies are suspect? Of course not. But the fallout from the illegal online pharmacies has cast a shadow over the entire industry.
High Risk Pay Solution Can Help You Get an Online Pharmacy Merchant Account
Do you operate an online pharmacy in Canada, India, the US, or the UK? Our merchant services experts have helped online pharmacies like yours increase sales by enabling them to accept credit card, debit card, and even eCheck / ACH payments online. To learn more about our online pharmacy merchant account options, give us a call us at 855-736-6460 or click here to request information online. Or, if you’re ready to get started, you can apply online for free.