pills and Canadian Flag, medicine from Canada

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!”

Nancy noted:

“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.

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  1. Rony

    Last time, I had bought my generic from a Canadian Pharmacy (Offshorecheapmeds.com). That was my first time and now I am a regular customer of Canadian Pharmacies.

    I always prefer PharmacyChecker accredited pharmacies than CIPA, because they are more responsive than CIPA.
    I had bought my generic almost 60% less than US pharmacies.
    Do some research and opt Canadian pharmacies.

  2. Cindy
    Seattle, WA

    Luckily I live in Seattle. If I ever (God forbid; shudder!!!!) had to go on a pricey Rx med, I’d just go up to Canada in person to get it. Pretty good, EH!

  3. Reilly

    Is it Safe to Buy Medications from Canada ?
    The main question should be :


  4. Larry
    North Carolina

    I have had a great experience with a Canadian pharmacy, ordering generic tadalafil in place of Cialis from a US pharmacy. After a few years, the brand they had been sending (produced in India) lost effectiveness. The pharmacy called to ask why I hadn’t re-ordered, and I explained the problem. Their pharmacist called me back to discuss the problem and offered to try a different manufacturer. The new tablets are produced in the UK and are indeed effective. The pharmacy has continued to check back with me to make sure the new product is satisfactory.

    • Arthur
      Farmingdale, NY

      Yes, I have also experienced the same thing. I had ordered my medication from an offshore online company but it was not effective. After contacting the customer support team, they have sent different manufacturer medicine for free. It was a great experience for me.

  5. Penny

    Shot in the knee? Couldn’t afford it. Bought it from a Canadian pharmacy. Label says it’s made in the USA. Go figure!

  6. Anne

    I use an app that is often helpful in finding the best price locally or mail order: GoodRX. It might not be a huge savings, but it’s surprising that there can be a fair difference between local pharmacies. I believe it also shows how to get coupons from manufacturers.

  7. Tom

    Please ask your readers/listeners if they have ever been eliminated from a health study because of side effects.

  8. Kathy
    Bloomington, IN

    My husband needs several different kinds of insulin daily. With the cost, we don’t see how he can retire and afford his medications. Any suggestions from other diabetics ? Would a Canadian pharmacy be the way to go?

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