Ordering prescription drugs from Canada can save Americans money. But is it safe? This article shares everything you need to know.
Here’s a table summarizing the price comparison for popular erectile dysfunction drugs between a Canadian online pharmacy and U.S. pharmacies:
|Price in Canadian Pharmacy
|Price in U.S. Pharmacy
|20mg, 8 tablets
|100mg, 12 tablets
|20mg, 12 tablets
These prices are for brand name medications and represent a considerable cost saving when purchasing from the Canadian online pharmacy listed.
Rules for Drugs in Canada
Health Canada oversees rules for medicines like the FDA does in America. Drug companies must prove new medications are safe and work before selling them in Canada.
Approved prescription drugs get a number called a DIN. It must be on the package. All imported drugs must meet Health Canada’s standards too. Checks, inspections, and recalls help ensure safety.
Canada has strict standards for making drugs. But some differences from the US exist. For example, Canadian pharmacies can mix custom medications. Drug names and labels may differ as well. But approved brand name and generic drugs contain the same ingredients in both countries.
Getting Drugs from Canadian Pharmacies
Canadians can buy Health Canada approved medications from licensed pharmacies with pharmacists. These pharmacies provide both over-the-counter and prescription drugs, just like American ones.
Brand name drug prices are often lower in Canada than the US because of government negotiation and single-payer healthcare. Canadians may pay less out-of-pocket since prescription coverage is common. So Americans look to Canada to save on costly medications.
Ordering online from a Canadian pharmacy seems quick and easy. But Health Canada and the FDA ban importing prescription drugs without a Canadian prescription.
Still, some websites skirt the rules to sell approved drugs from Canada at lower costs to Americans. But their trustworthiness is questionable, creating health risks.
Signs of an Unsafe Canadian Pharmacy Website
Watch for these red flags when assessing a website claiming to be a Canadian online pharmacy:
- Selling prescription medications without a valid prescription.
- Having an address outside Canada or no address at all.
- Only providing an email or online contact form, with no phone number.
- Missing or non-working online chat support.
- Unclear, harmful, or nonexistent privacy, terms of service, and other policies.
- No proof of licensing through a Canadian pharmacy authority.
- Odd medication selection or unusual unapproved formulations.
- Much lower prices than normal Canadian pharmacies.
- Generics looking different than brand equivalents or improperly packaged.
- Inability to talk to a pharmacist before purchasing.
Fake Canadian pharmacies may send counterfeit, contaminated, outdated, or dangerous medications, putting your health at grave risk. Only use transparent sites requiring prescriptions from licensed doctors and regulated by Canadian authorities.
How to Identify Legitimate Canadian Pharmacies
When searching for a safe Canadian online pharmacy, look for:
- A Canadian address and phone number.
- Website tied to a licensed Canadian bricks-and-mortar pharmacy.
- Listing of pharmacy licenses for each province of operation.
- Employing licensed Canadian pharmacists and technicians.
- Requiring a prescription from a licensed Canadian medical professional.
- Dispensing Health Canada approved prescription and over-the-counter medications.
- Sourcing medications directly from Health Canada approved wholesalers and manufacturers.
- Fair pricing in line with traditional Canadian pharmacies.
- A professional website showing pharmacists’ credentials.
- Strong privacy, security, and data encryption standards.
- Pharmacist consultations by phone or telehealth.
Use the National Association of Pharmacy Regulatory Authorities tool to check pharmacy accreditation. Legitimate websites clearly display licenses.
Placing an Order with a Canadian Online Pharmacy
Ordering through a properly accredited Canadian online pharmacy should mirror an in-person pharmacy visit.
First, make an account or checkout as a guest. Browse and select Health Canada approved medications to order.
For prescriptions, you must provide medical history and current medications to the pharmacist, just as during an in-person consult. The Canadian pharmacist will only dispense medications after receiving a valid prescription from your Canadian doctor.
For non-controlled prescriptions, you can request your current prescriber to transfer or renew your prescription to the pharmacy. Controlled substances usually require an in-person doctor’s appointment.
After consulting with you and approving the order, they will process payment and ship the medications via registered mail. The medications will arrive just as if picked up at a local pharmacy.
Is It Legal to Order from Canadian Pharmacies?
It is technically illegal for Canadians to fill unauthorized American prescriptions. The FDA and Health Canada advise against ordering without a doctor’s supervision due to safety concerns.
That said, the practice remains commonplace. The FDA generally does not prosecute individuals, though they may confiscate or destroy shipments at the border. And Canada has little incentive to restrict sales to Americans given the revenue benefits.
Experts say ordering modest quantities of non-controlled drugs for personal use seems to be tolerated, though still technically illegal without proper prescriptions and transfers. To minimize risks, use only reputable pharmacies requiring doctor involvement. Avoid controlled medications where charges become more likely.
Are Drugs from Canadian Pharmacies Safe?
Medications from licensed Canadian pharmacies are widely considered equivalent to those from American pharmacies when taken as directed under medical supervision. The main risks come from unscrupulous websites posing as Canadian pharmacies.
Medications from legitimate Canadian pharmacies utilizing Health Canada approved supply chains arrive to Americans just as safe and effective as if purchased domestically when dispensed responsibly with doctor oversight. Take normal safety precautions as with any pharmacy.
Some considerations when ordering from Canadian pharmacies:
- Formulations may differ slightly but medication contents are identical.
- Instructions may use metric units instead of imperial units.
- Drug names may vary slightly from US versions.
- Ensure your doctor knows of all medications to prevent duplication.
With sound medical support and ordering through properly vetted websites, the medications should perform the same.
Why Order from Canada with a Valid Prescription?
Ordering from a legitimate Canadian internet pharmacy with a valid prescription offers Americans several perks:
- Significant cost savings on brand name and some generic medications.
- Convenience of medications shipped directly to your home, often with free insured shipping.
- Increased privacy and discretion in obtaining medications.
- Easier access to medications not available in the US.
- Expert guidance from Canadian pharmacists via phone or telehealth.
- Confidence in receiving Health Canada approved medications identical to those from US pharmacies.
- Ability to accurately compare medication pricing online before purchasing.
Ordering internationally requires extra care and planning. But working with accredited Canadian digital pharmacies under medical supervision provides an avenue to substantially reduce prescription costs.
The Bottom Line on Canadian Pharmacies
Ordering from legitimate Canadian online pharmacies can provide safe, effective, affordable prescription medication access when done carefully under doctor supervision. But consumers must thoroughly vet pharmacies, watch for red flags, and follow protocols to avoid counterfeits.
Utilizing only Health Canada approved medications dispensed under medical guidance by accredited Canadian pharmacies minimizes risks and helps Americans save on prescriptions. While technically illegal without proper prescriptions, the FDA seems to allow some personal use under limited volume. Always consult your doctor before transferring or ordering medications internationally. With proper medical oversight, Canadian pharmacies can safely reduce prescription costs.