One of the hallmarks of a stable health-care system is customer access to a telephone network in which patients can call to ask questions, voice concerns or clear up confusion surrounding their medicine and other treatments. Taking the right drug, taking it in the right quantity, for the right amount of time — often in conjunction with other drugs whose combination could be harmful or even deadly — is paramount to every single pharmaceutical regimen. As a backup to instructions from a doctor, nurse, pharmacist or other medical professional, a reliable telephone network must be available — and that network must be reachable through a domestic toll-free number.

 

Consumer Confidence

 

According to the New York Times, “Customers are much more likely to call a business with a toll-free number than a business with a long-distance number. Toll-free numbers boost consumer confidence. Consumers assume that businesses with toll-free numbers are larger and more stable than their competitors.” If patients are put off or suspicious of the telephone number associated with their medication, they are certainly going to view the network of people behind that phone number with at least an equal degree of suspicion.

 

counterfeit-medicine

 

Patients have good reason to be leery of any network linked to a questionable phone number — specifically an overseas international number. There is an epidemic of counterfeit medication throughout the Western world, specifically in the United States. The overwhelming majority of fake or dangerous “medicine” comes from overseas syndicates posing as pharmacies.

 

Counterfeit medicine can be contaminated, it can contain the wrong active ingredients or ingredients in the wrong dosages. It can be fake and contain no medicine at all or be laden with toxins or harmful binding ingredients. Sometimes patients roll the dice on shady overseas pharmacies to save money, but in many other cases, the recipients of counterfeit drugs are unwitting victims who believe they are obtaining legitimate drugs from U.S.-based companies. With an international phone number — or any number that isn’t a familiar, domestic toll-free number — you run the risk of unintentionally putting up a red flag to customers on the lookout for overseas drug scams.

 

Keep Seniors in Mind

 

More than three out of four elderly Americans take prescription drugs. Many live alone and subside on fixed incomes. Asking them to pay to call long distance or overseas is problematic financially. But because they are a target for a disproportionately large number of con artists and scammers, older Americans may be even more hesitant than the larger population to dial any number that is unfamiliar or expensive or located overseas.

 

A local, recognizable toll-free number is paramount to instilling confidence in the recipients of medicine, medical devices, therapy or other medical care. If they are suspicious of an unfamiliar number — or simply don’t know how to call an international number or don’t want to dial long distance — patients are far more likely to not take their medication or — perhaps even worse — take their medication without guidance from a qualified professional. Toll-free numbers work for businesses — and the same principles apply to medical counseling.