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  • Tramadol, sold under the brand names Ultram® and Ultracet®, is a painkiller similar to the opiate drug codeine. It is used to control moderate to severe pain and is favored by healthcare providers due to its low potential for abuse relative to stronger opioid analgesics.

    Numerous online pharmacies and other digital storefronts allow consumers to order tramadol and other prescription drugs, often at low prices and without providing a prescription. But is it legal to buy tramadol online and what health or legal risks are involved?

    Is Tramadol Available To Buy Online Without a Prescription?

    Not legally or safely.

    When first approved for US medical use in 1995, tramadol was available without a prescription. However, reports of abuse and adverse events began to grow. 

    In 2014, tramadol was officially declared a Schedule IV controlled substance, meaning that a valid doctor’s prescription is now required in order to receive this medication.

    While some legitimate pharmacies do offer direct sales of tramadol online, sometimes with overnight delivery, these outlets require a valid prescription before the drug is dispatched.

    Other sites that offer online sales of tramadol and other prescription medications are doing so in violation of a variety of international, federal, and state laws.  

    What Are The Risks Of Buying Illicit Tramadol Online?

    It’s easy to understand why so many Americans might want to buy tramadol online without a prescription. Illicit drugs sold online provide pain relief, are often cheap, available in large quantities, and can be delivered to your doorstep without a trip to the local pharmacy.

    But there are serious risks to consider before you enter your credit card number, including:


    As mentioned, prescription-free tramadol sales are illegal. 

    Visiting these sellers greatly increases the likelihood that your purchase results in credit card fraud, identity theft, the sale of your personal information to other unscrupulous entities, and other issues.  

     Counterfeit Medications

    Online sellers will generally claim that their product is a generic tramadol version shipped directly from Canada or India. They may even claim that the medications are made with FDA approval, that their version of tramadol is not controlled, or that the drug is 100% legal to import for personal use.

    However, these claims are lies. 

    Illicit online drug sales typically involve counterfeit, unregulated medications produced in back-alley pill mills in Asia or South America. 

    Made without regulation, these pills or tablets may have too much of tramadol’s active ingredient or too little, they may be made with toxic or dangerous filler compounds, or they may be made with other mislabeled or even unapproved opioid drugs.

    They may be sent in unassuming, generic packaging, or in packaging intended to closely mimic real generic or brand-name medications, making it impossible to know just what you are taking unless you get it from a reputable pharmacy.

     No Warnings

    Pills produced in this way will also often omit vital box warnings that would typically be included on the drug by FDA mandate. 

    This can increase the risk of adverse reactions if individuals mistakenly take the drug with other substances including opioids or antidepressants. 

    It can also increase the risk of harmful effects impacting unborn babies or breastfeeding infants whose mothers were not aware of the side-effects and potential risks associated with the medication.

    Criminal Penalties

    According to a U.S. Department of Justice, Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Diversion Control Division consumer alert, it’s criminal to buy controlled substances online without a prescription. 

    These penalties can be severe, as simply possessing Tramadol without a valid prescription can be prosecuted as a federal Class 4 felony resulting in a sentence ranging from probation to three years in prison upon conviction.

    Various state-specific laws and penalties may also apply.

    Is Your Online Pharmacy Legitimate?

    If you use tramadol, buying your medication online legally is still an option. 

    The FDA encourages consumers to visit the FDA “BeSafeRx: Know Your Online Pharmacy” page before placing online drug orders, and to report suspected criminal activity to the FDA’s Office of Criminal Investigation.

    Treating Tramadol Dependence & Addiction

    If you or a loved one has become dependent on tramadol or struggles with tramadol abuse, help is available.

    Ark Behavioral Health operates several treatment centers with services covering a wide range of substance use-related services, including tapering, withdrawal symptom management, and supportive services.

    To learn more, please contact Ark Behavioral Health today.

    Written by Ark Behavioral Health Editorial Team
    ©2024 Ark National Holdings, LLC. | All Rights Reserved.
    This page does not provide medical advice.

    Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) - DEA Consumer Alert
    Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) - TRAMADOL
    U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) - FDA takes action against 53 websites marketing unapproved opioids as part of a comprehensive effort to target illegal online sales
    U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) - Know Your Online Pharmacy

    Medically Reviewed by
    Kimberly Langdon M.D.
    on April 18, 2022
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