WALGREENS ONLINE PHARMACY SITE GETS TOP BILLING

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Walgreens.com, the nation?s most heavily trafficked Internet pharmacy Web site, was also ranked at the head of the pack by independent consumer researchers who evaluated a number of online pharmacies for accuracy and reliability.

The study was conducted by researchers at HealthRatings.org, a joint project of Consumer Reports and the Health Improvement Institute. In placing Walgreens.com at the top of the heap, the organization cited the site?s ease of use and quality of information. Other large chain Web sites earned ?very good? to ?fair? rankings.

Furthermore, chain Web sites were rated ?excellent? with respect to their privacy policies but scored ?poor? in connection with their disclosure of advertising and sponsorship policies. The researchers also were critical of the policies in place at these Web sites for correcting wrong, misleading, or outdated information.

?Consumers should think of online drugstores the same way they think of drugstores you walk into,? said Beau Brendler, director of Consumer Reports WebWatch. ?You shouldn?t be getting all your health information in the store, where product placement, advertising, and other persuasions are at work. You might talk to the pharmacist, you?ve probably done some research, and you?ve probably had a conversation with your doctor.?