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How to Buy Your Medicine from Canada

People who plan to buy medicine from Canada must do extra homework and take care to select a legitimate online pharmacy.
How to Buy Your Medicine from Canada
Man holding capsules in front of complete wavy national flag of canada symbolizing health medicine cure vitamines and healthy life

With the high cost of medications in the US, many people look to Canada for more affordable prescriptions. That can bring down the price considerably, but you must know what you are doing. Otherwise, you might end up getting cheap but unreliable drugs from a “Canadian” pharmacy in Romania or Thailand. How can you make sure you are getting medicine from Canada?

Looking for Medicine from Canada:

Q. I have been searching online for legitimate Canadian pharmacies. They all require a prescription. My doctor says it is illegal for her to write a prescription for a Canadian pharmacy. What can I do?

A. Canadian pharmacies will accept standard prescriptions from U.S. doctors. Your physician does not need to do anything special to help you fill your prescription in Canada. You will need to mail or fax her prescription to the pharmacy.

In fact, you should not trust any online drugstore that does not require a prescription. If they don’t, they are running a racket instead of a pharmacy.

Savings on some prescription medicine from Canada can be substantial. One reader wrote:

“When I buy my Xarelto from a Canadian pharmacy, I get 84 pills for $200.00. The first time I got this prescription, I went to my local pharmacy and found out the price was $555.00 for 30 pills. No way can I afford that!”

Finding the Right Online Pharmacy:

You are wise to be cautious about which online pharmacy you use. Some unscrupulous websites trade on the good reputation Canadian drugstores have earned. Make sure it is really a legitimate Canadian pharmacy before you send or fax your U.S. prescription. We tell you how in our Guide to Saving Money on Medicines. This is an online resource (not a printed product) that suggests looking for pharmacies certified by CIPA (www.cipa.com). This is a trade organization of licensed Canadian pharmacies.

In addition, the online pharmacy must also have a physical address, somewhere in Canada, on the website, and its provincial pharmacy license number must also be there. If either of those are missing, go elsewhere to buy your medicine from Canada.

Keep in mind that you cannot buy narcotics, even with a perfectly good prescription, from any pharmacy not located in the US. Be sure to do your comparative shopping; sometimes, generic medicines are less expensive in the US than in Canada. And you should be aware that ordering medicine from Canada is not legal, although many people do it. Most of them are not prosecuted, but sometimes customs holds up a package. You want to plan ahead so that you don’t run out of a medication that you need.

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About the Author
Terry Graedon, PhD, is a medical anthropologist and co-host of The People’s Pharmacy radio show, co-author of The People’s Pharmacy syndicated newspaper columns and numerous books, and co-founder of The People’s Pharmacy website. Terry taught in the Duke University School of Nursing and was an adjunct assistant professor in the Department of Anthropology. She is a Fellow of the Society of Applied Anthropology. Terry is one of the country's leading authorities on the science behind folk remedies. .
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