The truth about safe and legitimate online pharmacies

Have you ever considered buying medications from safe and legitimate online pharmacies in Canada or abroad? More than 5 million Americans each year use safe international pharmacies to fill essential prescriptions.

Pricing is the main reason that Americans turn to online drug importation for their prescriptions. The harsh economic climate in the U.S. makes it difficult for patients to afford their needed medications. Seniors on fixed incomes and the millions of Americans who lack health insurance are especially affected. Additionally, the much anticipated heath care reform legislation does not adequately address the high cost of medications. Many Americans simply go without their prescriptions, or choose to stretch out their prescribed dosages to save a little money each month, unwittingly putting their health at risk.

Convenience is another important factor. Canadian and other international online pharmacies offer competitive pricing searches and deliver through the U.S. postal service.

Unfortunately, another reason some consumers turn to non-traditional pharmacies is to acquire prescription drugs, often a controlled substance, without a doctorʼs prescription. A report from 2007 issued by the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Rogue Online Pharmacies: The Growing Problem of Internet Drug Trafficking found a significant increase in unscrupulous Internet dealers and a corresponding number of cases of prescription drug abuse. Fortunately, there are protocols in place to protect the customer. Regulated and licensed international pharmacies require written, signed doctor prescriptions that are reviewed by licensed pharmacists.

International online pharmacies are a logical choice for American consumers. Many countries have pharmacy regulations that meet or even exceed the standards imposed by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Additionally, medicines and pharmaceuticals from international pharmacies cost 50-80 percent less than the exact same products found in American pharmacies.

It’s important to be aware that many fake pharmacies have popped up to capitalize on the unaware consumer. Consumers must be careful when purchasing medication online to avoid rogue online pharmacies. There are a few options for verifying licensed pharmacies to avoid rogue sites.

Consumers can import their medications through pharmacies that are verified or accredited by some of the RxRights Coalition members, including and the Canadian International Pharmacy Association. These accreditors help consumers distinguish between the “good guys”—the licensed, legitimate pharmacies that require a doctor’s prescription to order medicine—and the “bad guys”—the rogues who sell everything from diluted or counterfeit medicine to narcotics.

Pharmacies inspected and approved by these organizations have provided a virtual lifeline to Americans for years—back to when bus tours to Canada were a popular method of importation. Without this option, consumers will be forced to forgo their vital medications, split pills in half, or make cuts to other necessities, such as groceries.

Pharmacies approved by CIPA and

  • Require a valid prescription before dispensing medications—online questionnaires for purposes of diagnosis are not permitted;
  • Obtain demographic and medical information from the patient and maintain a health profile with medication history to avoid adverse drug interactions;
  • Have a licensed pharmacist on staff to supervise dispensing of medications and to be available for consultation upon patient request;
  • Display their business name, address, and contact information;
  • Have procedures to ensure patient privacy and confidentiality of personal records and contact information; and
  • Forbid the sale of controlled substances or narcotics.

Although importation from international online pharmacies is technically illegal, the FDA has chosen to use discretion in this sensitive area. Typically, individuals are permitted to import a small (90-day) supply of prescription drugs for personal use without penalty.

A 2012 study released by the National Bureau of Economic Research confirms that personal drug importation through legitimate Canadian and other international pharmacies is a safe, money-saving option for Americans. According to this study, U.S.-based pharmacies charged an average of 52.5 percent more than international pharmacies for popular brand-name medications. In addition, all 211 drugs sampled from 23 certified pharmacies passed quality-control tests.