pills and Canadian Flag, medicine from Canada

The FDA has a peculiar philosophy about drug importation. It allows pharmacy chains, drug wholesales, big box discount drug stores, nursing homes and lots of other drug distributors to purchase drugs from all over the world. Most generic drugs are imported, with China and India supplying both raw materials and finished pills. There have been huge scandals about fraud and quality control at many of these foreign plants. But if an American citizens want to buy brand name medications from Canadian online pharmacies the FDA warns that this is dangerous. Here is one reader’s question about this practice:

Q. My insurance company will no longer pay for two of my brand-name medications. I am allergic to certain fillers in generic drugs and thus cannot tolerate some.

I am thinking about ordering these two brand-name meds from Canada. I have perused Canadian pharmacy sites on the Internet and some look very good. I wonder if you might know of some Canadian pharmacies that people have had good luck with in relation to the quality of the medication received? We cannot afford to continue paying the outrageous US prices for these medications.

A. Although generic drugs must have the same active ingredient as the brand name equivalent, they often contain different binders, fillers and colors. This can cause serious problems for people who are allergic to such ingredients.

Canadian Online Pharmacies Represent Huge Savings:

Savings on brand name medicine purchased from a legitimate Canadian pharmacy can be dramatic. We asked an organization that carefully monitors Canadian and international pharmacies to do some cost comparisons. PharmacyChecker.com analyzed several common medications. They checked retails prices from a chain drugstore in New York City and compared them to Canadian online pharmacies. Here is what they found for some important brand name medications.

The average savings was 81% when purchased in Canada. The heart drug Lanoxin (digoxin) represented the greatest savings–94% but the drug is marketed by a different pharmaceutical company from the one in the U.S.

Here are some other examples from PharmacyChecker.com. Prices are for the same brand name products in Canada vs. a U.S.-based retail store in NYC for a three-month supply:

Tegretol (carbamazepine) 200 mg cost $2.87 per pill in U.S. $0.77 in Canada

Cleocin (clindamycin) 300 mg cost $24 per pill in U.S. vs. $3.38 in Canada

Catapres (clonidine) 0.1 mg cost $3.34 per pill in U.S. vs $0.45 in Canada

Lanoxin (digoxin) 0.125 mg cost $12.54 per pill in U.S. vs. $0.75 in Canada

Coumadin (warfarin) 5 mg cost $3.69 per pill in U.S. vs. $0.60 in Canada

Narrow Therapeutic Drugs:

All these drugs are considered “narrow therapeutic index” (NTI) drugs. That means the safe dose that works is very close to a toxic dose. This is why it is crucial that patients get a reliable dose that poses no risk of quality control problems or dosage variability. Many people feel that the FDA’s standards on such medications has historically been too lax. That is why some physicians specify the brand name product for NTI medications.

We will be writing more about narrow therapeutic index drugs and brand name price comparisons in future articles. Should you wish to learn which International pharmacies have passed muster with PharmacyChecker.com go to their website at this link.

Remember, we are talking about brand name drugs, not generics. In most cases the brand name medications were made by a major pharmaceutical manufacturer. The same exact pills that are shipped to the U.S. are shipped to Canada and other countries around the world. The same production line spits out these medications according to the original specifications submitted to the Food and Drug Administration.

Brand name pills are pricey in the U.S. because there are no brakes on what brand name companies can charge. In many other countries the government negotiates prices with the big brand name manufacturers, which is why the savings PharmacyChecker.com discovered for narrow therapeutic index drugs purchased in Canada was right around 80%. That is huge, especially when your brand name medicine is expensive and you cannot tolerate the generic.

Can You Trust All Canadian Online Pharmacy Websites?

Sadly, a nice website does not guarantee that an online pharmacy is truly Canadian. Fake online sites might sell counterfeit or substandard medicines.

We have prepared a Guide to Saving Money on Medicine that provides more details on the benefits and risks of shopping for medicines online. In it you will find our ten tips for saving money, including how to shop comparatively, bargain with the pharmacist and learn how to discover if you qualify for free medicine.

It is available electronically at PeoplesPharmacy.com. You can also visit PharmacyChecker.com for comparative pricing and verification strategies when shopping internationally.

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  1. Billy
    Manhattan, NY

    I have been using an online Canadian pharmacy for the last 2 years. There is no issue with online Canadian pharmacies. But the pharmacy should be PharmacyChecker.com verified. It ensures that pharmacy is following all the standards like storage, packing, FDA guidelines etc. Recently, I had ordered my prescription medication from http://www.medsengage.com You wouldn’t believe, I have saved $660 on a single prescription.
    Thank you

  2. Ron

    I made the BIG MISTAKE a few years ago of buying from a company using the name CANADIAN PHARMACY. Ok, I can live with the deluge of emails but I cannot take the phone calls. In the past month alone I have received 47 calls, 8 of them in the past 24 hours. For at least 3 years now I have tried to get them to stop. I have politely told them that I will not do business with them as I was totally dissatisfied with the product. I have tried insulting them. Have tried ignoring them all to no avail. They still keep calling! I am just about ready to change my phone number. Why do they do this when they have been told not to call me, email me and that I WILL not buy from them? Why do they think that by tormenting me that I will do business with them? DO NOT do business with them! The meds I got were terrible, and they will harass you to no end. The only safe, secure way to get you meds is by the tried and true methods.

  3. Becky

    I just got my first — and last — order from Canada (Canada Drugs.com).
    I ordered an AstraZeneca medication from Australia. Still expensive. Just arrived.
    Yes, it’s “marketed” in Australia — but it’s manufactured in China!!

    Canada Drugs says that in Canada it is “not required to disclose where drugs are made”. But their website clearly states that you have a choice of branded meds from Canada, Australia, UK, and New Zealand.

    I’m hoping for a refund. I’ll purchase the generic Teva equivalent that is manufactured in USA, and we’ll need to titrate (adjust) the dosage to the branded.

  4. SARA

    Robert in Australia: Don’t know who your phone service is with, but you should be able to block unwanted calls……on your cell phone, too! Some callers will use various numbers, but they each can be blocked.

    Peoples Pharm. said I had submitted this info. already, but I have not; I just recently learned how to do it!

  5. Tim
    Atl, Ga. USA

    I am very concerned about placing an order based on the comments I have read on this site. If the comments are true and the company is untrustworthy it’s probably a good thing that I avoid placing an order, but if there is another side to the story and the company has made an effort to correct problems that arise they should say so on the site that the negative comment was made.

    In my experience the reputation of a company is more important than the products they sell because who knows how much new business is lost because of a bad reputation online.

    The question really is, would you knowingly do business with a company that has a bad reputation online or would you look for another company to do business with?
    The company that has a growing reputation online for bad service will never know how much they are losing because the people who decide to look elsewhere to do business never contacts the company, they will see a bad reputation and just leave.

    92% of consumers trust reviews left online by people that have posted their experience with a company online, good or bad.
    How often do you, knowingly, do business with a company that cannot be trusted?
    Would you take your child to a daycare center that former parents have said this daycare center treated my child badly?

  6. Zack H
    Chicago, USA

    Not sure…
    I have searched online Canadian pharmacy on google. And found some online pharmacies. after that i found https://www.MedsEngage.com I compare the drug prices among all leading Canadian Pharmacy with it and found low price comparatively. I ordered from Medsengage and get my drugs within time. Meds was genuine and delivery was fast.

  7. Robert F

    I used Canadian Pharmacy Meds.com for a while and although the service was a little slow, the prices were good and I was pleased overall. I am not sure what changed, but they have lost multiple prescriptions from my physician and claimed that one prescription was written “dispensed only as written”, (which it was not) and required that I get another one (which they also lost).

    The other reviewers are correct in that they will call every couple of weeks asking if you want to get your prescription refilled (even if it is already in the process of being refilled). I would suggest that you avoid this pharmacy.

    • Jay

      I’m just.curiuos the best pharmacy online that you can by from illegally

  8. Tim
    San Francisco

    I must say. Many of these negative comments seem suspicious — wondering if they are not misinformation directed by drug companies. I have had good luck so far with overseas pharmacies. They can sometimes be slow to deliver but I have never been ripped off, and the drugs were always effective. You will, however, find yourself on a call list, so perhaps don’t give them your real phone number.

  9. DONNA

    canadianpharmacynoprescription.org DO NOT USE THIS WEBSITE. ITS A SCAM. THE PILLS WERE 100% FAKE. SCAM SCAM SCAM.

    • Terry Graedon

      Any online pharmacy that does not require prescriptions for drugs that should be available only by prescription ought not to be trusted.

    • Ed

      I used one of these sites the first time i used a Canadian Pharmacy. The meds were, as it turned out, not as good as a reputable Canadian Pharmacy. Also, my information got compromised and about four months later, there was someone calling my credit card company from the U.K. trying to make a charge on it. DO NOT USE.

  10. John T

    I am completely unsatisfied with Canadian Pharmacy. They lie. I have now been waiting 14 days for high blood pressure meds. I paid extra to get them to me within 7-10 days. Today, I discover that my meds have just been sent from INDIA. I still might be waiting up to 3 weeks. When I called customer service, they offered no assistance and accepted no responsibility. I will never use them again.

  11. Mark

    I found Offshorecheapmeds.co very good pharmacy listed at pharmacy checker. They really have low prices than others.

    • Ray C

      whats the password to use the site

  12. Dave

    Rip off still waiting 3 months later

  13. Dave

    Ordered pill 3 months ago still not arrived Don’t bother

  14. robert

    They have been calling for years do not use . I received a call at 6am . When I ask do you know what time it is seller said yes . please do not use their products are sub standard they sent me pills I am sure where placebos as they did not work had to buy from local pharmacy. These are fraudsters.

  15. K
    Kansas City

    DO NOT USE A CANADIAN PHARMACY! You will be getting phone calls at all hours for YEARS! Not only are they a pain, they are rude and abusive. It is not worth the money you might save.

    • SARA

      Don’t know who your phone service is with, but you should be able to block unwanted calls……on your cell phone, too! Some callers will use various numbers, but they each can be blocked.

  16. Ian
    United States

    I had a bad experience with Canadadrugs.com. I received a medication from them that made me ill. I informed them about the episode, but I was utterly appalled that they were not the least bit interested in investigating the matter.

    They did not even request a sample back of my unused medication. It comes as no surprise that this company was indicted by the U.S. for selling fake meds. Stay away!!

  17. BRY E.
    Aurora, CO U.S.A.

    My Percocet & Vicodin are obviously controlled substances & the U.S. is REALLY cracking down on people addicted to these drugs. I get that!

    If I’m only prescribed either one or the other (@ qty. 30 per month) & I’m not taking but 1 or 2 pills PER WEEK, how then does that reflect, or in any way indicate, signs of an addicton?

    I still need these pain pills since O.T.C.s don’t relieve my level of pain anymore. But my old Dr. just retired & my new Dr wants me to go across town to see a pain specialist, as she’s washing her hands of my pain management.

    Why make it MORE difficult to get our Rx’s if nothing has changed & there is no sign of a problem on my part?

    • stephanie

      did you find a pharmacy for those? looking for my friend who has cancer

    • AHREN

      It doesnt have to do with wether or not you per say have addiction tendencies. It has to do with the FDA, CDC, amd DEA cracking down. I understand completely where your coming from trust me. I was going to study medicine, to be exact Pain Management, Anesthesiology.

      I myself have CRPS (RSD) and have been in pain mgt since 03. Believe it or not there is ALOT of smoke screen attached to all of this opioid epidemic. How do I mean.. very simple.. They say that most of the people addicted start with pills then graduate. So it start usually from an injury more so a doctor. So the doc wrotes and continues to write. Now they add more things to ypur regiment.. therefore its now harder to detox and its more money for the doc, pharmaccy, pharmaceutical companies, and insurance company and the wheel goes around.

      Now years go by and you become dependent upon the medicine and that is expected. Nobody can go fpr X amount of time with out becoming dependant upon opiates or benzos. Ive challenged many people saying.. id happily inject you with 4 to 8 mg of dilaudid every 6-8hr for a month and see if you dont become dependent and if i pull it away.. see if you dont go through detox!
      So heres the smoke screen part.. they want stop the opiod epidemic right.. theres only 1 way to do that..1 Way! Stop making OpioidMedications. It will never happen. They are still writing the scripts. But its how they are wrtting them, the count, mg or mc and more importantly What they are writing. Your going to see in the comming weeks and months the fall of medications like Percocet,Vicodin,Dilaudid and so on. They already pushed Demerol and Codeine under the carpet. The reasoning behind it is that these drugs are easily broken down into there natural form and abused very easily. So the way the doctors, pharmaceutical companies, FDA,CDC combat that is by pushing name brand drugs that are tamper proof. Also these drugs are extremely extremely expensive. For instance Nucynta 50mg 90ct avg with middle road insurance goes for about 650-800+ and thats for the lowest dose! The 200mg the highest can reach over 4,000.00 easilly. This is just another way to TRY and deter people who want to abuse the medicine as well as giving doctors kickbacks, pharma com there $ and insurance companies theres.

      I could go on and on amd continue to explain more and more even about how docs are ripping off insurance co with urine drug screens.. but I’m sure you understand. My advice is do your research amd find a pain mgt doc who also is board cert in Anesthesiology and who believes in the saying if its not broke dont fix it.. meaning they will read your previous doc dictations and work with what they had you on. I cannot stress to anyone how important that is especially in pain mgt.. this is a very very difficult and tricky field and finding a doctor can take months even years.. it took me 7 years! Hope this info was helpful. Any questions at all email me. Best of luck to u and low low pain vibes to you as well.

  18. Mike

    Made an order in November, 2016, never received my order up to May, 2017. Contacted them several times to attempt resolution, and kept getting told they would resend. They never did, and when six months had gone by, they told me they don’t honour the purchase, and would not only not be getting my order but was out of luck for a refund as well. AVOID Canadian online meds as they are a fraudulent, scam company.!!

    • Michael

      I ordered 1 time from canadian pharmacy over 10 years ago. I have been receiving calls almost every month since. I have asked to not be contacted over and over again and I am still getting the calls. I would not use them again if they were the only pharmacy.

    • Gale

      Im in the same boat. What have you done to get your meds.

    • Chris

      I see an accusation but who is the culprit?

  19. Mike

    I placed an order for some sunscreen with Meroxyl L from an online Canadian Pharmacy at an exorbitant price. The charge went to my credit card immediately. Four days later I got a call to confirm the order I had placed for which my card was already charged. Then another week later I got a call that the material was out of stock. This is absurd, if it was out of stock it would have been known when my order was placed. It does not take a lot of time to check stock against an order. I have the distinct feeling this is someone operating out of a garage. Buyer beware. Although my card was charged within 30 minutes, I am still waiting for my credit now three days. I suspect a dispute with Amex over this charge.

  20. Nancy
    Seattle WA

    I have taken Celebrex for many years (since it first came out). Up to 2 years ago I was paying about $287 copay for 3 months supply. Then all of a sudden it dropped to $30 for the same amount of meds!!! I asked the pharmacist what had happened and he admitted that Celebrex now had a generic and that is what I would be getting. I was leery about it but paid for it and left.

    Well, after 3 wks I had to call my insurance co. to see if I could switch over to brand-name as the generic did not work at all. Unbelievably they agreed to do it and I got back on the real stuff but at a higher copay than before. Finally last year my insurance broker and I figured out that getting my Celebrex from Dr. Solve.com in Surrey, BC would keep me out of the donut hole and be far cheaper in the long run. I am very impressed–they tell you where it is made (New Zealand) and where it goes before it gets to your home. You do have to allow about 2-4 wks for the order to be placed and delivery. You can go to their website and check out prices for brand names and generics for all kinds of drugs.

  21. JimP
    Winchester, VA

    I checked for Avodart at PharmacyChecker.com. All but two of the 26 online pharmacies listed have a pharmacy located in some second- or third-tier country in addition to Canada. Even though many have “Canada” in their name and all have a pharmacy in Canada, you will probably be getting your discount prescription drugs from Turkey, Barbados, Mauritius or India. That certainly isn’t what I consider to be a reliable Canadian pharmacy!

  22. Lee

    Misinformation and scare tactics are often used to dissuade Americans from using online pharmacies. Thank you for being a voice of reason for consumers.

    Legitimate international pharmacies exist. And they’re an important alternative for Americans struggling to keep up with drug costs. Importation is not a long term solution or a cure-all but it’s a common sense and immediate short-term alternative for consumers who have no other options.

    Four million Americans import their needed medications from Canada and other countries each year (despite the fact that it’s not technically legal). Many have come to depend on this virtual lifeline to medication.

    RxRights.org aims to educate consumers on drug pricing issues and direct them to safe online pharmacies.

    • Heather

      Has any one ever ordered from Trust Pharmacy?? I just ordered a 50 dollar purchase and now afraid maybe I should have looked into it more.

  23. Penelope

    Canadian supervision of their drug supply I understand is much better than the FDA. I think the FDA’s nose is out of joint, because another country does a better job of policing their drug supply than they do!

  24. Phil
    Pasco County Florida

    I order through Canada all the time. pharmstore.com Never an issue. Had my Pharmacist check the meds, she even agreed, the real thing!

  25. HankieT

    I get my 2 more costly drugs from canadadrugs.com. They are on your list, CIPA approved, fantastic customer service, fast shipping. My Advair copay in
    2016 was increasing to $250/month, from $150. Ahead of the new year, I got my 3 month supply for $256 total and they came from England in 1 week. My Nasonex will not be covered in 2016, but I got 3 for $152, instead of $94 each. These took 2 weeks from England. Shipping is free. These are name-brand, not generic!

    My specialist dr. is ok with this, but he makes me pick up the RX and submit it myself. He will not fax it or renew the RX by phone. My family dr. is Canadian and gets her own RXs from Canada.

    • Tom

      Canada Drugs is being busted for fraud. See “Reviews.”

    • Robert

      What pharmacy did you use in Canada

  26. Lynne

    Check with the drug company. They may have a program which will help offset the cost of you using their medication. If this is done correctly, their $ toward your medicine will go toward your out-of-pocket.

  27. Diana
    Boone, NC

    Several years ago I ordered one of the medications I take from an on-line supposedly Canadian pharmacy. The drug was sent to me directly from India. While it looked like the drug I was taking, the odor of it was horrible. I threw the pills away and never ordered again.

  28. Dianne
    North Carolina

    I’m glad you are changing your position on Canadian pharmacies! I have ordered one of my meds from Canada for years — same manufacturer and same packaging as I can buy in the US for four times the price. Medicare won’t help pay but the saving is still substantial.

    • Barbara
      Durham, N. C.

      I am interested in your experience with Canadian meds. I am desperate because I have leukemia and meds are out of this world expensive and I don’t know who or where to go to trust. I live in North Carolina also. I would appreciate any hope u could give me. Thanks Barbara

      • Chris
        west hollywood

        Barbara i have answer to your request but in private, this isn’t fraud am not asking you for a cent so that when you get help from me you can be able to help others freely.

        • Jackie

          Hi, I am trying to find a legit Canadian Pharmacy that won’t give me fake pills. I am in need of Diflucan. Is there one that you can recommend please? I am desperate!
          Thank you so much!

        • Brian

          I’m in need of meds for discounted prices. Legit please. I have cancer & only Medicare

      • Nikki

        Barbara, I am sorry to hear that you have Leukemia. I am also from NC. I have been researching pharmacies in Canada to make sure I get medication that will work for my husband’s heart condition. He and I both had cancer when we were young and survived. We have conditions that come from the cure of cancer. We are not bitter about these conditions because we are still alive but it does mean we have to work harder to make sure that we get what we need.

        I have tried to do as much organic/natural as I can but my husband has a condition called POTS among other names. It affects not only the pacemaker nerve in the heart but the same nerve runs to his brain. This nerve affects the electrical information when to beat. His heart will race to 180-210 beats per minute and then plummet to 30-40 beats per minute. This creates a situation for syncope (passing out). The only medication that seems to work is Corlanor. BCBS of NC has been covering it for a full year an now asks for a prior approval. BCBS of NC farms out their prescription service to CVS Caremark that just bought Aetna in November of 2017. When this switch happened they stopped allowing this medication to be covered even thought it was on their preferred medication list for 2017. He will be running out in 4 days. I am hoping to get his medication for him soon. Canada has something like the FDA in the USA call CIPA. I would check that site before buying drugs from Canada. I hope you are doing well and I will try to respond with updates after I attempt to get my husband’s prescriptions from Cananda. I will pray you are able to beat your cancer.

  29. Marcia

    My blood pressure medication is manufactured by a company in India, needed to change it, the company was investigated, and found out it diluted the chemo meds, and sent them to the US. Why are we buying meds from other countries, and why is the FDA allowing this.

  30. Gale
    Durham, NC

    I was directed by a pharmacist to the website http://www.cipa.com. This is an organization that certifies Canadian pharmacies, and lists the websites of legitimate pharmacies.

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