The People's Perspective on Medicine

Generic Drugs Can Be Pricier in Canada

A shopper was disappointed to discover that prices for generic drugs may be higher through Canadian online pharmacies than at big-box US stores.

Americans pay more for prescription drugs than anyone else on earth. No wonder people are always looking for a way to save money on the medicines they need. But trying to combine two money-saving strategies might backfire. An irate reader trying to save money by ordering inexpensive generic drugs from an online Canadian pharmacy was sorely disappointed.

Generic Drugs Are No Cheaper in Canada:

Q. Canadian online pharmacies charge ridiculously high prices for generic medicine compared to the U.S. Metformin 500 mg tablets, for example, can be bought here for about two US cents each. They are charging more than 10 times that price.

A. You are right that generic drugs are often more expensive in Canada. According to, 500 mg metformin from a Canadian online drugstore costs between 20 and 50 cents a pill. The cutthroat competition on generic drug prices in the U.S. usually makes such medicines much cheaper here.

Saving Money by Buying from Canadian Drugstores:

Brand name drugs, on the other hand, are frequently much less expensive in Canada. People who buy medicine from an online Canadian pharmacy to save money should be very careful to verify the pharmacy is actually in Canada, however. Some unscrupulous operators have taken advantage of the good reputation these online drugstores enjoy. They may pretend to be Canadian although they are located elsewhere in the world and not subject to Canadian regulation.

How Readers Save Money on Meds in Canada:

Nancy in Richmond Hill, Georgia, reports:

“I buy my Xarelto [rivaroxaban, a blood thinner] from a Canadian pharmacy and get 84 pills for $200.00. When I first got on this drug and went to a Kroger pharmacy, the price was $555.00 for 30 pills. later I found some drug stores had it for $460.00 for 30 pills. I still could not afford it.”

Ann Marie in Cleveland has problems with generic Synthroid (levothyroxine):

“I have been buying Synthroid from Canada for years and get a brand name. I cannot take the generic version.”

Diane in Raleigh, NC, has a lot of experience:

“I am glad that People’s Pharmacy has become more open to Canadian pharmacies. I have been ordering one of my prescriptions from Canada for at least 10 years. It is the same product from the same company that I would buy in the States, but I save about 2/3 of the cost.”

Ruth notes that that there are pitfall in trying to find a legitimate Canadian pharmacy:

“I’ve been researching Canadian pharmacies for my husband’s meds and it’s impossible to find one that is actually in Canada and not a fake. There does not seem to be a website or listing that specifically states ‘yes we are in Canada.’ I would quite cheerfully buy them that way as I am tired of being ripped off by US drug companies, but it’s too expensive to find out you were ripped off by an Indian drug company!

“I have knowingly bought drugs from India, some pharmaceutical and some herbal, and the quality is always questionable. And the spam mail afterwards is horrendous!”

We discuss the ins and outs of Canadian online pharmacies and how to determine which are legitimate in our updated Guide to Saving Money on Medicines. This online resource is available at When you buy this guide, you will be emailed a link just for you that allows you to read it whenever you wish, as many times as you like, on any device that you have connected to the internet. We hope you find this resource helpful.

Share your own experience in the comment section below.

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About the Author
Joe Graedon is a pharmacologist who has dedicated his career to making drug information understandable to consumers. His best-selling book, The People’s Pharmacy, was published in 1976 and led to a syndicated newspaper column, syndicated public radio show and web site. In 2006, Long Island University awarded him an honorary doctorate as “one of the country's leading drug experts for the consumer.” .
Saving Money on Medicines

This online guide offers 20 pages of information on how to safely buy prescription drugs from Canada, assess generic drugs, qualify for free medicine from drug companies, and more. Updated 10/2016.

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In our 70’s with no Medicare Part D (drug coverage), my husband had to start an Rx –
we priced it at our local Walgreens and Wal Mart to the tune of $280 and $225 for the
generic. I got online and checked Costco prices and found it for $36. Don’t use insurance even if you have it for a quote.

I purchase name brand drugs, Advair, Spiriva & Vivelle Dot from a Canadian pharmacy as well. The online pharmacy I use allows you to see where your product is shipped from, some come from Turkey some from the UK but they are brand and much less expensive. They also give you a choice between generic and brand & the price of both. My Canadian pharmacy is very easy to do business with and quick to ship. They were provided to me at my doctors office. There are legitimate Canadian pharmacies out there.

Only drug I get from Canada is Coumadin [Brand name] is less expensive than in the states.
Still have to shop around since their priced vary as in the lower 48.

In regards to canadian online pharmacies as I used to live in vancouver, BC, Canada now reside in florida. I checked two cdn online pharmacies in the metro vancouver area were legit, cause I lived there many yrs and had bought from them. yes most drugs are much cheaper there than in the USA. It’s true generics can cost a bit more but eg. a 90 day supply for a generic of micardis 40 mg was $44 US. but got 100 pills.

People need to be aware all prices are in US dollars and usually a $10 s/h fee, plus delivery shipment can take 2-4 weeks, as orders at the cdn/US border customs your drug order can sit there 1-2 weeks or longer before you get it in the USA. And prescription can be faxed, mailed, phoned in re: confirmation can take an additional few days, then s/h a few days then customs at the border.

I have been buying my Diovan from a Canadian Pharmacy for many years; they are very reliable and the price is extremely fair. My insurance company will not approve me taking Diovan and I a allergic to the generic drug.

Is it legal to routinely buy pharmaceuticals from Canada, especially since most times there is no Doctor-Patient relationship with a Canadian doctor.
If my Doctor writes a RX when I visit can I send these to Canada to get filled.

You can send the prescription to Canada, but it is not legal.

My wife uses Vimpat, a med that has no generic. Even with our GEHA plan, it would cost $200 per month. We found a Plan D for about $65 a month. That med is now zero – and maybe others are helped in price. I have also ordered your guide.

CIPA is the Canadian International Pharmacy Association, a Canadian association of licensed and retail pharmacies. They have a website and phone number, where consumers can check out whether a “Canadian” pharmacy is licensed and safe. I have found CIPA trustworthy.

Garlic, red wine and onions thin the blood. Be careful alcohol is neurotoxic!!! That is why drunks cannot talk properly it damages the brain!!! In the old days before they added ethanol to almost all drinks wine was about 6 % and it was difficult to get drunk!!! Now almost all wine is 12 to 16 % alcohol!!! A good way to get

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