According to a 2019 report from the U.S. Government’s Ways and Means Committee, Americans pay on average nearly four times more for prescription drugs than citizens of other countries. In some cases, Americans spend up to 67 times more on medications. So, it is no surprise that those with expensive prescriptions may seek to purchase these medications from other countries. Here’s what you need to know about buying prescription drugs from Canada.
Is it legal to buy a prescription from a Canadian pharmacy?
It is technically illegal to buy prescriptions from Canada, and bring them into the USA. However, the FDA acknowledges that they generally don’t object to a personal import of medication from Canada, so long as the prescription medications meet these requirements:
- The drug is for use for a serious condition for which effective treatment is not available in the United States. There is no commercialization or promotion of the drug to U.S. residents.
- The drug is considered not to represent an unreasonable risk
- The individual importing the drug verifies in writing that it is for his or her own use, and provides contact information for the doctor providing treatment or shows the product is for the continuation of treatment begun in a foreign country.
- Generally, not more than a 3-month supply of the drug is imported.
Why is it illegal to import medications from a Canadian pharmacy?
According to the FDA, drugs imported from pharmacies in Canada may not maintain the effectiveness and quality required by the FDA in order for a drug to be approved in the U.S. Therefore they are not approved by the FDA for sale or use in the U.S. Unapproved drugs are illegal to import.
Are there ways to find cheap medications in the U.S.?
If you are an American struggling to afford your medications, there are ways to save on prescription drugs right here in the U.S. Free prescription coupons from RxSaver help you save up to 85% on more than 6,000 drugs at your neighborhood pharmacy. Simply show the RxSaver coupon to your pharmacist when picking up your prescription from the pharmacy offering the best price in your area.
If you are prescribed expensive, brand-name medications, consider joining the RxSaver Advocacy program. The RxSaver Advocacy Program is a prescription assistance program, created to advocate for lower prescription prices whether you have insurance or not.
Is ordering prescriptions online safe?
Many people look to online ordering for canadian prescription medications, it’s important to know where you are ordering your prescription medications from and if it's safe. It is safe to order prescriptions online, as long as you’re smart about which online pharmacy you use. Avoid ordering prescriptions online or from mail-in programs that claim their drugs come from outside the United States. There is a risk that the medications have been manufactured with low-quality standards, making them potentially dangerous. Ordering medications online to be delivered by mail, from any outside country, including Canada, is risky and may be illegal.
Warning Signs an Online Pharmacy is Not Safe
Using a reputable online pharmacy to safely order prescription medication can save money and time. However, there are plenty of unsafe websites posing as legitimate, safe online pharmacies that you should avoid. Stay away from any online or mail-in pharmacy if you notice these warning signs:
- Unsolicited mailings that request credit card and personal information
- Failure to provide a way to contact them by phone
- Extends offer to sell certain drugs without a prescription
- Claims drugs are from overseas or outside the U.S.
Where to Order Prescriptions Online
Online prescriptions can be safely ordered from companies such as GeniusRx and HealthWarehouse. GeniusRx and HealthWarehouse pricing for many prescription medications is provided through RxSaver. To take advantage of RxSaver pricing for GeniusRx or HealthWarehouse home delivery of prescriptions, simply type in your prescription in the search bar of the RxSaver website, or the RxSaver app. Search results often provide pricing from GeniusRx and HealthWarehouse.
Always Check RxSaver Before Filling a Prescription
Before ordering a prescription from a mail-in or online pharmacy in Canada or anywhere else outside of the U.S., be sure to check RxSaver. RxSaver provides prescription drug coupons with savings of up to 85% on medications that are FDA approved in the United States and may be legally purchased at a pharmacy near you.
There is no fee to use RxSaver, and you do not need to join a membership program. RxSaver is designed to be used without insurance. RxSaver prescription drug coupons can also be used in place of your insurance if the coupon price beats your insurance copay.
Jen Hadley is a freelance writer and journalist based in Los Angeles, who writes extensively about the medical, legal, health care, and consumer products industries. Jen is a regular contributor to RxSaver.
Carina Fung, PharmD, BCPPS
Carina Fung, PharmD, BCPPS., is a pharmacist who earned her PharmD from St. John’s University in Queens, NY. She maintains an active practice, serving as a Board-Certified Pediatric Pharmacotherapy Specialist at a large metropolitan teaching hospital in New York City. Carina has also published in pharmacy journals and works as a consultant reviewing medical articles for publication.
The information on this site is generalized and is not medical advice. It is intended to supplement, not substitute for, the expertise and judgment of your healthcare professional. Always seek the advice of your healthcare professional with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard seeking advice or delay in seeking treatment because of something you have read on our site. RxSaver makes no warranty as to the accuracy, reliability or completeness of this information.
If you are in crisis or you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor or 911 immediately.
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