What Is a Mail Order Pharmacy?

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In the US, the online pharmacy market is predicted to see a compound annual growth rate surge of approximately 19% between 2020/2021 and 2026.

This is thanks to the overall convenience of this service, in a faster-paced, digital age. But the COVID-19 pandemic has contributed greatly to this surge, with people being less able to leave the house and medication in high demand.

But many believe online pharmacy services and mail order services are the same things. There is a difference. Read on to learn what a mail order pharmacy is…

What is a Mail Order Pharmacy? 


A mail order pharmacy is a service that liaises with insurance providers, sending their insured customers’ required medication in the post.

Cutting out the need to physically go to the drugstore, this is a convenient service that helps ensure you are never without your prescription.

Your doctor will either send medication out to the mail order pharmacy, or they can submit the order form online with the prescription attached.

What is the Difference Between a Mail Order Pharmacy and an Online Pharmacy?

There is a difference between a general online pharmacy – ie purchasing medication online – and mail order.

The key differing factor is the involvement of the insurance provider. Mail order pharmacies are in contact with your insurance provider. Online pharmacies may also be, but may also not be.

There are risks, therefore, with online pharmacies; especially those without links to insurers. They may not be safe. Often these sites draw in punters with offers of heavily discounted medication. You cannot be sure this medication is 100% legitimate, and this can be dangerous.

Online pharmacies can be based anywhere globally too. This means many aren’t regulated by US laws.

In stark contrast, mail order pharmacies are subject to strict laws, regulations, protocols, and health and safety checks.

Those without health insurance often turn to online pharmacies. Some are legitimate, but you should never trust an online pharmacy that isn’t VIPPS accredited.

The Verified Internet Pharmacy Practice Sites ensure a pharmacy is above board. If it is not under the VIPPS program, it can be a scam site. These can take your money and provide you with the wrong medication. This, in turn, can be catastrophic, depending on the medication type and the health condition you are suffering from.

The VIPPS was created when people began receiving counterfeit medication from these sites when the internet became mainstream for public use and online shopping in the 1990s.


If an online pharmacy is VIPPS-accredited in the US, it will be listed on the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy’s website.

Reasons to Opt for Mail Order Pharmacies

Mail order pharmacies are convenient. At the click of a button, you can order medication – or multiple medications – and simply wait for them to be delivered to your door.

As long as the prescription is eligible these can be ordered and refilled on websites, apps, or over the phone. You can often select a refill service that automatically sends out your refills when you are running low.

This way of refilling your prescriptions can also work out cheaper. Some mail order pharmacies will offer you the option of buying in bulk. You may be able to order a 3-month supply for example, at a lower rate.

With the COVID-19 era upping people’s need for medication while being instructed to stay home as much as possible, mail ordering your pharmaceuticals really is the way of the future.

Are There Any Downsides?

One of the biggest issues – as is the case with any postal service – is facing a delay in receiving medication. Mail order items are subject to the same hiccups that anything ordered online is – postal service problems, late mailings or other general issues.

This means you could run out of medication and have to wait a few extra days. This is of course not appropriate for those who require medication immediately.

The simple way around this is to be diligent with your supply and your ordering timeframe.

Another issue that might arise is whether your delivery service requires you to be at home to sign for a package. If so, this can affect your schedule. And if you are not home, and miss the delivery, this is another delay in receiving your medication.

Of course, posting items always carries the risk of parcels getting damaged in transit. This can be an issue for delicate medication or prescriptions transported at a certain temperature.

Are Some Prescriptions Exempt From Mail Order?

Most medications can be mailed but the likes of controlled substances that need to be transported under special instructions may not be feasible for mail order services. The Controlled Substances Act (CSA) monitors the making, importation, and distribution of Schedule I, II, III, IV, and V drugs.

This does not mean all drugs of this nature are exempt from mail order. It simply means these packages are subject to extra labeling and checks ahead of transit. They will often be tracked and require a signature upon delivery.

It is often the case, with these drug types, that postal costs are higher, given the level of security and care involved.

Sent With Care

We hope this information on the mail order pharmacy industry has been helpful. Please be assured that Kiwi Drug is a member of the Pharmaceutical Society of New Zealand and the Pharmacy Guild of New Zealand, as well as other compulsory regulators. We have also passed all the requirements of the Medicines Control authority.

Kiwi provides consumers with the best health products globally, at the best prices. The medication we administer is of the highest quality. And thanks to the value of the New Zealand dollar, we are at the top of our game.

If you have any inquiries, be sure to reach out to us via our contact us page and we will be happy to assist you further.

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