Is Ordering Medications from Canadian Pharmacies a Good Idea?

It is no secret that you can quickly run up quite an impressive bill at your local pharmacy, particularly if you’re filling those prescriptions not only for yourself, but also for family members. There are hardly any ways to reduce the cost of your monthly pharmaceutical supplies that don’t jeopardize your health and well-being, so most people are forced to look for cheaper substitutes or refrain from taking a much-needed drug at all. However, ordering medications online from another country seems to be the loophole in the law that dictates the ridiculously high price of quality healthcare.



As more and more people choose to import their pharmaceuticals from Canada, we had to wonder about the pros and cons of this option. Are the imported meds safe? Is ordering drugs online legal? Are there any pitfalls we as consumers should be aware of? Keep reading to find out!

Concern #1: Safety

Online shopping is often associated with scams, failed deliveries, and cheap knock-offs sold at attractive prices. Many consumers avoid ordering their medications from a pharmacy abroad because they are apprehensive of receiving a counterfeit product or simply being scammed out of their hard-earned money. While these concerns are not unfounded, they are no reason to give up on importing pharmaceuticals altogether. If you are careful and do your research before you place an order, you are very likely to receive high-quality medications that are in no way inferior to those you would have purchased at home.

The necessary precaution measures include using, looking for online reviews of your chosen online pharmacy, and giving its website a critical look. The latter is a very quick and easy procedure that can spare you a lot of time (and potentially, money) when looking for the company from which you are going to order your pharmaceuticals. Avoid websites that look like they were hastily put together with no attention to detail or common design practices. A reputable online pharmacy is definitely going to invest into a nice-looking website, so sketchy ones are almost surely a warning sign of a scam.

Concern #2: Quality Regulations

Generally, medications imported from legitimate Canadian online pharmacy can be considered as safe as those purchased in the United States. Canadian regulations and safety standards regarding pharmaceuticals are very strict, so you can be sure that a medication made in Canada is going to be of a very high quality. If you need numbers and facts to believe this, try searching for confirmed incidents of people suffering permanent damage to their health because of a poor-quality Canadian drug. The search is going to be a quick one because these incidents are extremely rare and can sometimes be attributed to accidental overdose or violation of the prescription label instructions.

On the other hand, Canada has recently seen a dramatic increase in the amount of medications imported from countries such as Brazil or India. Since these imports can sometimes be of a poorer quality than their domestically produced counterparts, many people are apprehensive of ordering their medications from Canada. We admit that this would have been a valid concern if American pharmacies weren’t getting their supplies from the same manufacturers. Thus, by purchasing your medications in a local brick and mortar pharmacy you are often paying more for the very same drug you could have ordered at a more reasonable price from Canada.

Concern #3: Savings

Given the perceived risks associated with importing your medications from another country, many people end up wondering whether the savings from this undertaking are worth it. Unfortunately for those who like to always stay on the safe side, the answer is “yes”. According to an extensive analysis conducted by the Wall Street Journal, residents of almost every developed country in the world can buy prescription drugs at lower prices than American consumers. The countries that could boast a particularly noticeable price difference for the majority of the 40 medications included in the analysis are Canada, Norway, and Great Britain. Given that importing drugs from Canada is not nearly as risky as it is sometimes made out to be, the chances of losing your money to scammers are fairly low. What’s more, even if you do happen to do business with a dishonest online pharmacy at some point, the accumulated savings from your past orders would very likely be substantial enough to cover the damages.

Concern #4: Legal Limitations

Officially, you are not allowed to import medications from any other country, even if they are only meant for personal use. However, the FDA is known to have a very tolerant policy regarding drug orders from overseas, particularly when it comes to medications that are not available in the United States. As long as you order the equivalent of a three-month supply for personal use, you should not run into any problems with the law.

Unfortunately, your package might still get confiscated in a customs raid, and in that case you are almost guaranteed to never receive it or get your money back. Such raids are not regular and their frequency depends on a number of factors, so it is very difficult to predict when the next one could be happening. This means that you’ll have to factor in the risk of your order being seized at the customs as you make the decision to (not) import medications from Canada. The good news is that similarly to running into online scams, losing your order to a customs raid is relatively unlikely, so you can be sure that the savings from your successfully delivered orders are still going to prevail. In addition, you can try to minimize potential losses by ordering the medications more frequently in smaller quantities.

The Bottom Line

There is no denying that ordering medications online from Canada is a very effective way of cutting down on your healthcare expenses. In addition to benefiting from considerably lower prices, you can also expect to get some discounts and bonuses from most online pharmacies. If you’re willing to invest the time, you can also keep an eye on currency exchange rates to order your medications at a time when you can literally get the most Canadian bang for your American buck. With a little luck, you can get the pharmaceuticals you need at a fraction of what you would have paid for them in your local drug store.

Of course, there also are some risks associated with the whole endeavor of importing medications from Canada. While most of them can be managed with some common sense, there is nothing you can do about the possibility of losing your order to a customs raid. Ultimately, it is up to you to decide whether this risk is enough to keep you from buying Canadian drugs. Nevertheless, it is safe to say that imported medications from Canada are a lifesaver if you simply can’t afford to fill your prescription at an American pharmacy.