8 Best Online Pharmacies of 2023

Need a prescription but don’t have time to take off from work and sit around waiting at the doctor’s office to only then head over to the pharmacy and hurry up and wait some more? (Not to mention scheduling a new-patient appointment today takes 24{2c3a8711102f73ee058d83c6a8025dc7f37722aad075054eaafcf582b93871a0} more time than it did in 2004.) Or maybe you’ve got your prescription already, but you had to leave the pharmacy empty-handed after the pharmacist quoted you a price you couldn’t afford. You’re not alone there: roughly 18 million Americans can’t afford to pay for the prescriptions they need. Online pharmacies hope to address all of these problems by making it cheaper, faster, and easier to get the medications you need.

Improved access is considered the biggest benefit of online pharmacies, with convenience and reduced costs following close behind, according to a 2021 International Pharmaceutical Federation survey. Online pharmacies make filling prescriptions for everyday medications a snap, but how do you know which one’s best for you? To help you find the best online pharmacy to fit your needs, we evaluated over 30 companies, compared costs, quality, and availability, and consulted a subject matter expert to round up our top picks.

Best Online Pharmacy of 2023

Most Comprehensive: RedBox Rx

RedBox RX

Key Specs

  • Cost: Medical consults $0-$69; prescriptions start around $10-$25 per month
  • Medical Consultation Required? In most instances
  • Accepts Insurance? No. Accepts health savings account (HSA) and flexible spending account (FSA) payments
  • Free shipping? Yes

Why We Chose It

RedBox Rx offers free medical consultations for birth control, hair loss, or erectile dysfunction. The service is available in all 50 states, can ship prescriptions to your home or local pharmacy, and offers consults and medication for many health concerns.

Pros & Cons


  • Free medical consults for many concerns
  • Medical advisor reviews your information within 24 hours
  • Prescriptions sent to your home or pharmacy of your choice
  • Discreet packaging
  • Conspicuous customer service contact and refund info


  • Only for patients 18 and older
  • Cannot mail prescriptions to Washington D.C. residences
  • Does not fill prescriptions from outside providers
  • Does not accept insurance
  • Can’t treat erectile dysfunction or premature ejaculation in North Dakota and South Carolina


RedBox Rx does it all, and for a low price: whether you’re experiencing erectile dysfunction, hair loss, a urinary tract infection (UTI), headaches, nausea, eczema, anxiety, depression, or need birth control, it’s got you covered. RedBox Rx is one of the few online pharmacies that goes beyond addressing sexual/reproductive health and hair/skin issues to also offer mental health and primary care prescriptions.

The company was launched in 2021 as a low-cost telehealth and pharmacy service by Hy-Vee, an Iowa-based supermarket chain. While RedBox Rx may not have been around for very long, its parent company was founded in 1930.

Licensed medical providers (physicians, nurse practitioners, or physician assistants) are available from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. CST seven days a week for live consultations. To access care, find your concern within one of the five main care categories listed on the homepage—Men’s Health, Women’s Health, Hair & Skin, Mental Health, and Primary Care—then click “get started.” You’ll be asked if you have a preferred medication or any comments for the prescriber. Then, create an account, complete a medical assessment form, and find out if a telemedicine consultation is necessary for the prescription you need prescribed. If so, you’ll be sent into the virtual waiting room while your prescriber reviews the information you submitted. Within a few minutes, you will meet with your provider, who will decide if medication is right for your situation.

Best for Subscription: Blink Health

Blink Health

Key Specs

  • Cost: $10 monthly subscription fee for telehealth prescription services, plus cost of medication
  • Medical Consultation Required: Not always; in some cases and states
  • Accepts Insurance: Yes
  • Free shipping? Yes

Why We Chose It

For $10 a month, you get unlimited access to messaging and consultations with licensed healthcare providers, seamless auto-refills, and low-priced prescriptions.

Pros & Cons


  • Subscription includes unlimited messaging with providers
  • Can get new prescription via telehealth or bring your current prescription
  • Over 250 birth control pill options available
  • Auto-refills
  • Customer service available seven days a week


  • Not available in all states
  • $10 monthly subscription fee
  • Not for first-time users of hormonal birth control
  • Only for adults


Blink Health was founded in 2014 as a way for people to save money on prescriptions, similar to GoodRx. In 2019, the service added telehealth prescribing appointments for birth control. So there are two models here: you can either bring your current birth control prescription to Blink Health to get it filled or you can get a subscription to its telehealth service and have a virtual consultation with a healthcare provider to get a new prescription. Online prescribing is available for birth control, ED, hair loss, high cholesterol, cold sores, and acid reflux.

To get a new prescription, start by choosing the medication you’re interested in. (One caveat is that Blink Health is not for first-time users of hormonal birth control, and you must choose a medication you’ve used before.) You can peruse the list of options or enter the name of your medication in the search box. Within 24 hours of submitting your request, a physician will follow up with you. Next, you’ll have a virtual medical consultation and, if appropriate, your chosen medication will be prescribed and sent to your home within three to five business days. Auto-refills are shipped every one to three months, according to your prescription.

To access telehealth, you must subscribe to the service for $10 per month. Subscriptions include unlimited messaging with healthcare providers, which can be handy if you want to try a different medication or discuss any troubling symptoms. Telehealth for birth control pills are only available in: California, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Nebraska, New York, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Texas. For erectile dysfunction, you must be ages 25 to 65, and live in: California, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Nebraska, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Texas.

Blink Health has experienced some controversy. In 2017, a former investor filed a $30 million lawsuit against the company alleging fraud, breach of contract, and other illegal actions, but a judge tossed the case out in 2022.

Best for Erectile Dysfunction: Roman

RO Man

Key Specs

  • Cost: Free medical consultations; $4-$90 per dose
  • Medical Consultation Required: Not always; in some cases and states
  • Accepts Insurance: No
  • Free shipping? Yes

Why We Chose It

We love that Roman offers free initial assessments—and free unlimited follow-ups—plus fast, discreet shipping, reasonable prices, and easy refills alongside clear safety information and comprehensive FAQs for its erectile dysfunction medications.

Pros & Cons


  • Choose monthly or quarterly auto-refill
  • Prescriptions sent to your home or pharmacy of choice
  • Free consultations
  • Lots of health info on website


  • Can’t guarantee prescription prices if sent to your local pharmacy
  • Does not fill prescriptions from outside providers
  • Does not accept insurance
  • Only for patients 18 and older


Erectile dysfunction (ED) is the inability to get or maintain an erection. It’s estimated that 52{2c3a8711102f73ee058d83c6a8025dc7f37722aad075054eaafcf582b93871a0} of men between ages 40 and 70 experience ED, representing 30 to 50 million men in the U.S. and 150 million men globally. Many health issues are thought to contribute to ED, including high cholesterol or blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and depression. Further about a quarter of ED cases are thought to be a side effect of various medications. All this is to say that ED is common and nothing to be ashamed of seeking help for.

Roman was designed to address all your ED needs. It was his experience with erectile dysfunction that led Zachariah Reitano to found Roman in 2017. Though it has since expanded its focus, this basis in helping men access medications for erectile dysfunction still stands out. In addition to being a great place to go for ED meds, Roman sells benzocaine wipes for premature ejaculation, topical and pill treatments for male hair loss, and testosterone level evaluations and supplements. Since its founding, the company has branched out beyond men’s health and can now address a wide range of men’s health, women’s health, and basic primary care concerns.

It offers generic and brand-name versions of Viagra and Cialis. Brand name Viagra starts at $90 per dose, with its generic starting at $4 per dose; brand name Cialis starts at $20 per dose and its generic version starts at $8 per dose. To begin, just find your condition in the website’s drop-down A-Z menu of what it treats, then click “start online visit.” You’ll answer some customized questions and then a healthcare provider will review your request within 24 hours. Your provider will then either submit your prescription or let you know that they need more information about your condition and may request a virtual consultation. In some cases, your state of residence may require a virtual consultation. If prescribed, you’ll get free, discreet two-day shipping of your medication and unlimited free follow-up appointments.

Side effects of ED medications include headaches, facial flushing, stuffy nose, and upset stomach. Rare, but serious, side effects include an erection lasting longer than 4 hours, hearing loss, and vision loss. People taking PDE5 inhibitors with nitrates, or any nitrate medications, should not take ED medications due to the risk of a life-threatening interaction.

Best for Birth Control: Lemonaid Health

Lemonaid Health

Key Specs

  • Cost: Medical consults mostly $25; ED medication $2 per pill, birth control pills $15/3-months
  • Medical Consultation Required? Not always; in some cases and states
  • Accepts Insurance? No; no HSA of FSA payments either

Why We Chose It

Lemonaid Health is a one-stop shop for people with uteruses’ health needs. The service has prescriptions for UTIs, hot flashes, and over 100 hormonal birth control options, including the ring, patch, and morning-after pill.

Pros & Cons


  • Extensive FAQs section with info for each diagnosis/concern
  • Easy refills
  • Prescriptions sent to your home or pharmacy of your choice
  • Frequently offers discounts on first order of medication
  • Often ships several-months supply of medication
  • Most medical consults are flat rate of $25


  • Does not fill prescriptions from outside providers
  • Only for patients 18 and older
  • Only one hair loss prescription available and it’s for men only, according to the website
  • Does not accept insurance
  • No free consultations


Lemonaid Health provides telehealth consultation and prescription services for a variety of health needs under the topic umbrellas of men’s health, women’s health, mental health, skin, and general health. We especially love that its medical consultations are typically a flat rate of $25, it has several low-cost treatment options for people with uteruses’ reproductive/sexual health needs. Lemonaid is especially flush with birth control options, with 100 hormonal pills, the ring, and the patch to choose from, in addition to offering the morning-after pill.

Lemonaid Health is now a decade old, having been founded in San Francisco back in 2013. In 2021, the company was acquired by DNA testing giant 23andMe. Among the things Lemonaid Health says it can help with are: ED, premature ejaculation, anxiety, insomnia, seasonal affective disorder, smoking cessation, migraine, genital herpes, asthma, acid reflux, high blood pressure or cholesterol, hypothyroidism, UTIs, hot flashes, and acne. The company also works with local labs to offer low-cost tests for STIs, A1C blood sugar levels, cholesterol levels, and blood type. Overall, customers appear satisfied with the service.

First, you indicate which medication you are interested in, then fill out some information about your medical history. Lemonaid Health will review your submission and respond within 24 business hours. The company’s business hours are M–F 5 a.m.–5 p.m. and weekends 5 a.m.–4 p.m. PT. Many patients won’t be required to have a live video or phone consult, but some conditions require them and some states have regulations requiring them. If medication is prescribed, it can be sent to your home in discreet packaging or called into your pharmacy of choice. Lemonaid Health keeps costs low by not working with insurance and offering many generic options, in addition to some brand-name prescriptions, so it’s a great option for people without insurance. Birth control pills are $15 for a three-month supply.

Hormonal birth control contains synthetic forms of the hormones progestin and estrogen, or just progestin, to prevent ovulation. Averting pregnancy isn’t the only purpose of birth control; it can also lighten periods and reduce menstrual cramps, acne, premenstrual syndrome (PMS), anemia, polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) symptoms, and endometriosis symptoms. Hormonal birth control is available as pills, a vaginal ring, dermal patch, and other formats. If taken as directed, birth control pills are 99{2c3a8711102f73ee058d83c6a8025dc7f37722aad075054eaafcf582b93871a0} effective at preventing pregnancy; with non-perfect use, they’re 91{2c3a8711102f73ee058d83c6a8025dc7f37722aad075054eaafcf582b93871a0} effective.

Common side effects include nausea, mood changes, worsening migraines, breast tenderness, and weight gain. Rare, but serious, side effects include blood clots, heart attack, high blood pressure, and stroke. Women who use tobacco products or have clotting disorders or high blood pressure or cholesterol run a higher risk of serious side effects. Progestin-only birth control is less likely to cause serious side effects.

Best for Generics: Sesame Care

Sesame Health

Key Specs

  • Cost: Medical consults begin at $40, discount with subscription; generic prescriptions $5/month
  • Medical Consultation Required: Yes, video appointment
  • Accepts Insurance: No; accepts HSA/FSA payments and will provide superbill for potential insurance reimbursement
  • Free shipping? Yes

Why We Chose It

While Sesame has a higher appointment cost than many other online prescribing services we reviewed, that consultation gets you access to its pharmacy of generics that mostly cost $5 a month.

Pros & Cons


  • $5 monthly supply on most generics
  • Same-day or next-day appointments available
  • Can read doctor bios before booking
  • Choose your appointment time
  • Auto-refills
  • Clear pricing


  • Video appointments required
  • Appointments can get pricey: from $40 to over $100
  • Only for patients 18 and older


If you’re OK paying a bit more to see a doctor, Sesame Care‘s medication costs can’t be beat. For instance, generic Cialis for erectile dysfunction is $5 for 30 tablets; generic Yasmin birth control is $5 for 28 tablets; generic Lexapro for anxiety/depression is $5 for 30 tablets.

There are several ways to get started with Sesame: you can enter a term in the search bar on the main page, such as a symptom, specialty, or condition. Or, underneath the search bar, you’ll find buttons for “I need to see a doctor urgently” or “I need a prescription refill.” Scroll down the page and you can access care by clicking through lists of the top-booked appointment types like “UTI consult” and “ED consult,” specialties, symptoms, and $5 medications. Further down the page, you will find a selection of doctor bio boxes, with headshots, clear prices, and upcoming available appointment times. There’s even a toggle button you can flip on the website if you only want to see a list of doctors who have availability within the next two hours. You can also search for a specific doctor, if you want.

Before booking, you can read more about providers on their bio pages, even customer reviews. Each doctor also has a selection of color-coded tags on their profile, such as “Available today,” “Highly rated,” and “Loyal patients,” but the one you’ll want to look for is the “$5 Meds” tag, meaning this doctor can prescribe generic $5/month medications via SesameRx. During your visit, the doctor will listen to your concerns and decide if medication is appropriate. If prescribed, your medication will arrive at your home via USPS within two to four days in discreet packaging.

You don’t have to subscribe to Sesame to access telehealth prescribing services, but you can join if you want. Subscriptions cost $11 per month or $99 per year and will save you $20 on all telehealth visits and grant you one free blood test per year.

Sesame’s doctors can treat over 120 conditions, including:

  • Acid reflux
  • Allergies
  • Anxiety
  • Arthritis
  • Asthma
  • Birth control
  • Depression
  • Diabetes
  • Erectile dysfunction
  • Hair Loss
  • Infertility
  • Insomnia
  • Irritable bowel syndrome
  • Mood disorders
  • Seizure
  • UTI

Best for Hair Loss: Ro Pharmacy

RO Pharmacy

Key Specs

  • Cost: Free medical consultation; hair loss medications range from $16 to $35 a month
  • Medical Consultation Required: Not always; in some cases and states
  • Accepts Insurance: No
  • Free shipping? Yes

Why We Chose It

Ro makes accessing care for your hair loss easy and affordable and offers four different treatment options. Consults are free and medications range from $16 to $35 a month.

Pros & Cons


  • Free online consultation
  • Free, discreet shipping
  • Auto-refills
  • Four hair-loss treatment options
  • Live consultation may not be required


  • Only generics for hair loss
  • Can’t guarantee prescription prices if sent to your local pharmacy
  • Does not fill prescriptions from outside providers
  • Does not accept insurance


Ro was founded in 2017 as Roman, a men’s-health focused telehealth and prescription service. Its main concerns were the common, but potentially embarrassing conditions of erectile dysfunction, premature ejaculation, and hair loss. The company hoped to make it easier and cheaper to access medications to address these issues by doing so online. This grounding in men’s health shines through.

Ro offers four different treatment options for hair loss. Finasteride and topical minoxidil (generic Propecia and Rogaine) for $35 a month, finasteride alone for $20 a month, topical minoxidil alone for $16 a month, or oral minoxidil (generic Loniten) for $30 a month. These drugs come with some warnings: finasteride is not appropriate for all people with testicles and should not be used by people with uteruses or handled by pregnant people; oral minoxidil is a boxed warning drug and is considered off-label for hair loss.

To get started with Ro, choose your condition/concern or medication of choice from the website’s drop-down A-Z menu. Next, you’ll answer some customized questions. Within 24 hours, a healthcare provider will review your request. The provider will then either submit a prescription for you or reach out to tell you they need more information about your case and must meet with you either online or by phone. In some cases, your state of residence may require a live video consultation. If prescribed, you’ll get free, discreet two-day shipping of your medication and unlimited free follow-up appointments.
Within a few years of its founding, Ro branched out beyond traditional men’s health and can now address: genital herpes, weight management, excessive sweating, acne, allergies, anxiety, depression, SAD, cold sores, dandruff, eczema, hot flashes, skin aging, tobacco use, and vaginal dryness. It also offers a wide range of vitamins, supplements, and at-home health testing kits.

Best for Temperature-Sensitive Shipping: Optum Rx

Optum RX

Key Specs

  • Cost: Medical consults free to $55; medications range in price.
  • Medical Consultation Required: Yes for new prescriptions or refills, no if transferring a prescription
  • Accepts Insurance: No for telehealth visits, but can use FSA/HSA; yes for transferred prescriptions, only United Healthcare
  • Free shipping? Yes
  • Optum Rx’s temperature-controlled, cold chain packaging not only meets but exceeds international standards. This means you can feel confident that your temperature-sensitive medications were not exposed to higher temperatures during transit that might render your prescriptions unuseable.

    Pros & Cons


    • Temperature-controlled shipping exceeds standards
    • Some consultations free
    • Can get telehealth prescriptions/refills or transfer prescriptions
    • Accepts insurance for transferred prescriptions
    • Telehealth can be used by minors with parent/guardian present


    • Primary care consults expensive: $55
    • Insurance not accepted for telehealth appointments
    • FAQs and website could be easier to navigate


    Most medications can be stored at typical indoor temperatures without adverse effects, but cannot withstand temperatures above 93° F. Some medications must be kept at very specific temperatures in order to maintain effectiveness and safety. Pharmacies rely on “cold chain,” systems of cold storage facilities, refrigerators, and cold packaging, to maintain medicine temperatures during shipment. But how can you be sure your medication was safely shipped? One study found that at some point during transit, nearly all mail-order pharmacy shipments were exposed to temperatures outside the recommended range. In the winter, packages spent 68{2c3a8711102f73ee058d83c6a8025dc7f37722aad075054eaafcf582b93871a0} to 87{2c3a8711102f73ee058d83c6a8025dc7f37722aad075054eaafcf582b93871a0} of their transit time in unsuitable temperatures; in summer, 27{2c3a8711102f73ee058d83c6a8025dc7f37722aad075054eaafcf582b93871a0} to 54{2c3a8711102f73ee058d83c6a8025dc7f37722aad075054eaafcf582b93871a0} of their transit time.

    Luckily, Optum Rx’s cold chain packaging exceeds international standards. It ships all temperature-sensitive medications in meticulously designed temperature-controlled packaging that the company has spent years researching and testing. Optum Rx has even developed a proprietary method for shipping medications when temperatures outside are 0° F to 32° F to prevent medications from freezing.

    Optum Rx is another two-model company, that is, you can either transfer your existing prescriptions to its online pharmacy service, or you can access telehealth and have a provider prescribe you medication through the service. On the website, you can access telehealth consultation, prescribing, and refill services for common primary care concerns, mental health, birth control, erectile dysfunction, and hair loss. Appointment costs range from free to $55. For instance, birth control consults are free; general telehealth appointments are $55. The best news about Optum Rx is that you can book a telehealth visit for your kids: children under age 18 can be seen by its virtual providers so long as the parent/guardian is present for the appointment. While you cannot use insurance to cover the cost of telehealth, you can use United Healthcare to help pay for prescriptions you transfer to Optum Rx. You can also purchase an array of tests and other over-the-counter products in the online store.

Most User-Friendly: LetsGetChecked

Lets Get Checked

Key Specs

  • Cost: $39 general health consults; free to request ED meds and birth control, which cost about $2 to $5 per pill and $10 to $20 per month, respectively.
  • Medical Consultation Required: Not typically, can be requested
  • Accepts Insurance: No
  • Free shipping? Yes

Why We Chose It

A reliable name in at-home testing, LetsGetChecked now offers online pharmacy services for two of the most commonly prescribed medications: ED and birth control. The prescription request process is free, easy, and straightforward, and it may not even require a live physician consult.

Pros & Cons


  • Free assessments for birth control and ED meds
  • Live medical consultations available
  • Auto-refills
  • Choose how many months of medication you want to pay for


  • Not available in all states
  • Only ED meds and birth control shipped to home; other meds prescribed in telehealth consults sent to local pharmacy
  • Only for adults ages 18 and up


If you’re looking for birth control or erectile dysfunction medications, LetsGetChecked is an easy-to-use online prescribing option that won’t require a live consult in most cases. First, you complete a comprehensive online health assessment and medical history information, then someone from the clinical team at LetsGetChecked will review your request. You can request a live consultation with a healthcare provider to discuss medication options, side effects, or other concerns if you want, but it’s not required. If approved, your prescription request is then filled and shipped for free to your home in discreet packaging.

LetsGetChecksed offers nine of the most common birth control pill options to choose from, and though it doesn’t accept insurance, its low prices make up for that, with prescription costs ranging from $10 to $20 per month. For erectile dysfunction, there are three options, ranging from a little over a dollar a pill to just under $5 a pill. You can choose to pay for a three, six, or 12-month auto-renewing prescription of birth control pills, and a one, three, six, or 12-month auto-renewing prescription for ED medications. (A maximum 90-day supply is dispensed at any one time.) It calls this auto-fill feature a subscription. Subscriptions automatically renew at the end of each payment period but can be canceled anytime.
For other health issues, the company offers $39 telehealth consultations for a range of women’s and men’s health, sexual health, and general health needs. Any prescriptions that result from these consultations will be sent to your local pharmacy. LetsGetChecked also sells several kinds of at-home health tests, such as hormone tests for people with uteruses and testicles, STD tests, and general health tests. LetsGetChecked cannot prescribe medication to residents of: Alaska, Arizona, Delaware, Idaho, Kansas, Kentucky, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, Washington D.C., and West Virginia.

Final Verdict

Which online pharmacy service works best for you may depend on your specific medication needs. We chose RedBox Rx as the most comprehensive service since it is available in all 50 states, offers free medical consultations for many common medications—with prescriptions starting around $10 per month—and provides telehealth appointments and prescriptions for a wide array of health concerns.

If you’re looking specifically for an online pharmacy that offers low-cost generics, Sesame Care‘s $5-a-month medication program might be worth checking out. If you’re hoping to avoid a live consultation, LetsGetChecked has free requests for ED medications and birth control and low prescription costs for those in the states it serves.

Compare the Best Online Pharmacies

Company Cost Medical Consultation Required? Accepts Insurance? Free Shipping?
RedBox Rx
Most Comprehensive
Medical consults $0-$69; prescriptions start around $10-$25 per month In most instances No. Accepts  health savings account (HSA), and flexible spending account (FSA) cards Yes
Blink Health

Best for Subscription 
$10 monthly subscription fee for telehealth prescription services, plus cost of medication Not always; in some cases and states No Yes
Lemonaid Health

Best for Birth Control
Medical consults mostly $25; ED medication $2 per pill, birth control pills $15/3-months Not always; in some cases and states No Yes

Best for Erectile Dysfunction
Free medical consultations; $4-$90 per dose Not always; in some cases and states No Yes
Sesame Care

Best for Generics
Medical consults begin at $40, discount with subscription; generic prescriptions $5/month Yes, video appointment No; accepts HSA/FSA payments and will provide bill for potential insurance reimbursement Yes
Ro Pharmacy

Best for Hair Loss 
Free medical consultation; hair loss medications range from $16 to $35 a month Not always; in some cases and states No Yes
Optum Rx 

Best for Temperature-Sensitive Shipping
Medical consults free to $55; medications range in price Yes for new prescriptions or refills, no if transferring a prescription No for telehealth visits, but can use FSA/HSA; yes for transferred prescriptions Yes

Most User-Friendly
$39 general health consults; free to request ED meds and birth control, which cost about $2 to $5 per pill and $10 to $20 per month, respectively Not typically, can be requested No Yes

Guide to Choosing the Best Online Pharmacy

Are Online Pharmacies Better Than In-Person Pharmacies?

Online pharmacies can save you time and money. You won’t have to drive anywhere or wait in line. What’s more, many online pharmacies do more than just fill your prescription, and also offer telehealth medical consultations to prescribe you medication in the first place. Most online pharmacies keep costs low by not working with insurance companies. Consultations are often free or lower than the cost of a typical co-pay. One drawback is that most telehealth providers cannot prescribe controlled substances or some stimulants, but you may be able to have your existing prescription from an in-person physician transferred to an online pharmacy.

“Some online pharmacies provide discount programs for those without medication coverage or with high-deductible plans. This helps reduce out-of-pocket costs and makes getting the needed medications more accessible,” says Lindsay Modglin, a nurse, professional writer, and subject matter expert. “However, an online pharmacy may not be the best choice if you need a drug requiring regular monitoring or adjustments, such as insulin. Shipping delays could also be an issue in time-sensitive situations, such as needing an antibiotic for an infection. Local pharmacies can often fill prescriptions on the same day, so you don’t miss a dose.”

How Do You Know if an Online Pharmacy Is Reputable?

The siren song of deeply discounted medication and free online consultations can lure many people into buying medicine from the wrong places.

“The most significant red flag to watch for when using an online pharmacy is one that doesn’t require a prescription. Legitimate online pharmacies should always require you to have a valid doctor’s prescription before filling your order,” explains Modglin. “When you receive the medication, make sure the packaging is sealed and looks like the same medication you would get locally. It should also include prescribing information, and any accompanying literature should be from the manufacturer. The website should have a safe checkout process and policies protecting your privacy. If you’re in doubt, ask your doctor for a list of reputable online pharmacies.”The FDA has a BeSafeRx website with tips and tools for being safe when buying prescription medicines online. It notes that a reputable online pharmacy is one that is licensed with a state board of pharmacy (or partners with a pharmacy that is), has licensed pharmacists available to answer questions, always requires a prescription, and has a physical address and phone number in the U.S. Buying medication from non-licensed sources can be dangerous because it may not contain the right active ingredient or the right amount of it, or may contain harmful substances.

The FDA says red flags of online pharmacies include:

  • Medicine that looks different than what’s found at local pharmacies
  • Packages that arrive damaged
  • Medications that are expired or have no expiration date
  • Prices that are suspiciously low
  • Charging for medication that never arrives
  • Not outlining how it protects your personal and financial data

How to Compare the Best Online Pharmacies

There are various factors to consider when deciding which online pharmacy service is best for you. These factors include:

  • Cost: Compare the costs of each service’s medical consultations (if required or needed) and the price of the medications you’re interested in. It may end up being a better value to use a service that offers cheaper medication and more expensive medical consultations.
  • Insurance and/or HSA/FSA accepted: While none of the online pharmacy companies on this list accept insurance for consults and new prescriptions (though Optum Rx accepts insurance for prescriptions you have transferred there) many accept FSA and HSA payment. In many cases, you will pay less for the medication than you would have via your insurance, but it’s always good to compare costs before committing.
  • Medical consults: Many services will prescribe you a new medication after you fill out an extensive health assessment form, while others require a live video or phone medical consultation. You’ll likely want to choose a service that has healthcare professionals available either via messaging or video/phone in case you want to switch medications or have questions or concerns about side effects. Some states require live consults: check the current regulations.
  • Shipping and privacy: Most online pharmacies provide free shipping; all the ones on the list above do. And nearly all services ship medications in discreet packaging. Some services will also ship to P.O. boxes. Before choosing a service, check that it can serve residents of your state and ship to your home. Also, be sure that all telehealth platforms and information forms are secure and HIPAA compliant, which means the company has security measures in place to protect users’ data that meet federal standards.
  • Refill procedure: Many companies have auto-refill features or allow you to choose how long you want to receive medication (90 days, 6 months, 12 months, etc.), but others may send your first bottle of medication and then wait for you to request a refill when you need it. Depending on the drug, one scenario may work better for you than the other. It’s also important to make a note of how often you’ll need to speak with a provider to get your prescription renewed once you run out of refills.

Frequently Asked Questions

How Much Does It Typically Cost to Get Prescriptions Shipped?

Most online pharmacies offer free shipping or the option of having your prescription sent to the pharmacy of your choice. Prices for medications vary between services. Some services have a wide selection of generics for a flat rate, like Sesame Care’s $5 meds program, and others have the option to choose between generics and brand names, with prices ranging from around $5-$15 for a one-month supply to $90 per pill.

Is There Medication You Can’t Get From an Online Pharmacy?

Most telehealth providers cannot prescribe medications considered controlled substances, some stimulants, and devices that will need to be placed by a medical professional, such as an intrauterine device (IUD). The rules for telehealth prescribing of certain medications were relaxed by the Government during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, but these changes may only be temporary.

Do Online Pharmacies Offer Discounts?

Many online pharmacies offer discounts on care or medications if you sign up for a subscription, which is typically paid for monthly or annually. Other companies offer discounts for your first month of medication or service to allow you to find out if the service works for you without spending as much money as you normally would. Several companies offer free medical consultations for certain concerns.

Do You Need to Have A Medical Consultation to Get a Prescription Online?

There tend to be two models of online pharmacy: one that processes prescriptions from in-person doctors and ships them to your home and one that provides telehealth consultations that may supply you with a prescription, which the company itself or a pharmacy it partners with then ships to your home. Some companies offer both models of care. Several online pharmacies will just ask you to fill out a highly detailed health assessment with your medication request and prescribe you medication after a healthcare professional looks over your information. Some states require live video consults to acquire a prescription online.


To create this list of the best online pharmacies, we evaluated over 30 companies that offer online pharmacy services. Factors taken into account for this evaluation include the cost of medications, telehealth services, shipping, and subscriptions, states, and ages served, variety of healthcare services and medication provided, availability of healthcare professionals to answer questions, customer service availability, quality of service, and customer reviews, track record of reliability, shipping speed and discretion, and safety of your personal data.


John Perks S, Lanskey C, Robinson N, Pain T, Franklin R. Systematic review of stability data pertaining to selected antibiotics used for extended infusions in outpatient parenteral antimicrobial therapy (OPAT) at standard room temperature and in warmer climates. Eur J Hosp Pharm. 2020 Mar;27(2):65-72. doi:10.1136/ejhpharm-2019-001875

Delong C, Preuss CV. Black Box Warning. [Updated 2022 Jun 23]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2022 Jan-. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK538521/

“Important Safety Information.” Roman. https://ro.co/faq/erectile-dysfunction/

Sooriyamoorthy T, Leslie SW. Erectile Dysfunction. [Updated 2022 Nov 28]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2022 Jan. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK562253/

“Birth Control Pills” MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, National Institutes of Health. Last updated 1/10/2022 https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/007460.htm

“How effective is the birth control pill?” Planned Parenthood. Accessed 3/1/2023. https://www.plannedparenthood.org/learn/birth-control/birth-control-pill/how-effective-is-the-birth-control-pill

“What are the benefits of the birth control pill?” Planned Parenthood, accessed 3/1/2023, https://www.plannedparenthood.org/learn/birth-control/birth-control-pill/what-are-the-benefits-of-the-birth-control-pill

“Birth Control Pills” MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, National Institutes of Health. Last updated 1/10/2022 https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/007460.htm

International Pharmaceutical Federation (2021). Online pharmacy operations and distribution of medicines. The
Hague, The Netherlands: International Pharmaceutical Federation, 2021. https://www.fip.org/file/5082

Witters, Dan “In U.S., an Estimated 18 Million Can’t Pay for Needed Drugs, Gallup, SEPTEMBER 21, 2021

2022 Survey of Physician Appointment Wait Times, AMN Healthcare, August 29, 2022. https://www.merritthawkins.com/trends-and-insights/article/surveys/2022-physician-wait-times-survey/