Imagine you get to the pharmacy to pick up the drug your doctor just prescribed. When the cashier tells you the price, you gasp. You had no idea it would cost so much! What can you do? Some people solve this problem by purchasing the medication from Canada. How can you do so prudently?
Buying Medicine from Canada:
Q. My doctor wrote a prescription for a pricey medicine. I am interested in buying it from Canada to save money, but I don’t know where to start.
I don’t know a reliable pharmacy in Canada. Thanks for any information you can provide on where I should turn.
Buying Pills from Canada Is Against the Law:
A. The FDA frowns on patients buying prescription medicines online from Canada even if they are made by the original brand name manufacturer. It is illegal to do so.
Nevertheless, it is often possible to save quite a bit on brand name medicines if you purchase them from a legitimate Canadian pharmacy. Most will accept prescriptions that are mailed or faxed.
Some possibilities include PlanetDrugsDirect, QualityPrescriptionDrugs and ADVPharmacy. We have listed websites and phone numbers for these and other valid Canadian drugstores in our eGuide to Saving Money on Medicines.
Buying Synthroid from Canada:
Another reader had a question very similar to yours:
Q. I take Synthroid for a long-standing hypothyroid condition.
My insurance company wants me to take generic levothyroxine instead. It is much more affordable, but the generic is not as effective for me. I have heard similar comments from others.
It would be less costly to buy my Synthroid from a Canadian drugstore. Is this safe?
A. Purchasing brand-name prescription drugs from Canada is often much less expensive. Using PharmacyChecker.com, we found that Synthroid costs between $30 and $40 for 90 pills from a certified Canadian pharmacy. In the US, a similar supply could cost over $100. (To find the cost in your neighborhood, try looking it up on GoodRX.) There is rarely a cost saving on generic drugs, however.
Is It Safe to Buy Medicine from Canada?
As we noted above, the FDA discourages Americans from buying their medications through Canadian online pharmacies. In fact, it is not legal to do so. It seems, however, that the government is not eager to prosecute people who purchase their much-needed medicines from Canadian drugstores online.
Some unscrupulous websites sell counterfeit drugs. They may claim to be Canadian even though they may actually be located elsewhere in the world. That is why you should verify that any pharmacy you utilize is legitimate. To help you determine which online Canadian pharmacies are trustworthy and better understand this complicated system, we offer our recently updated eGuide to Saving Money on Medicines.
Cheryl faced a similar dilemma, but found a different solution:
“I take Synthroid and my insurance coverage is charging twice as much as it used to because they moved it to a tier that’s not covered because they only want you to purchase the generic brand now. I cannot take the generic brand as it has no effect on me at all. So I was looking into how I could purchase Synthroid at a cheaper cost. Well, I found out if I don’t use my insurance, it’s $34 for a 30 day supply instead of $60! Go figure!”
“I buy my Xarelto from Canadian pharmacy and get 84 pills for 200.00 when I first got on this drug and went to Kroger pharmacy, their price was $555.00 for 30 pills. later I found some drug stores had it for 460.00 for 30 pills. still could not afford it.”
Doreen added that the price differential is not only for brand-name drugs:
“I have begun using a Canadian pharmacy for two generic drugs that have recently skyrocketed in price. Because of the huge price increase for these drugs, all Plan D insurance companies have moved them to an upper tier. Placement in an upper tier limits the insurance coverage to 35%, making out of pocket costs jump astronomically. I am saving about 2/3 the cost on the generic for Entocort and Plaquenil. Canada has a certification agency and the pharmacy I am using is certified. Their service has been great and I have been very satisfied using this pharmacy. I refuse to be held hostage by greedy pharmacies.”
Doreen’s point is excellent: make sure that the online pharmacy you use is certified. CIPA is an association of licensed retail pharmacies in Canada.