How Safe are Canadian Pharmacies?


Written by Geoff Vaughan in Medicine
Viewed by 264 readers since 05-04-2009

As drug prices climb ever higher, many people have turned to other countries as a source for the prescription drugs they so desperately need. It seems counterintuitive that one would pay less for a drug that was shipped across a nation’s borders, only to have it shipped back to the U.S., but many have found this to be the case. And although the practice is not currently legal, by going online and finding the websites of Canadian Pharmacies that ship to the United States, senior citizens and other Americans with little or no health insurance are finding big savings over the cost to buy the same drugs in the United States. The question is, are Canadian pharmacies as safe as the one in your hometown?

There are a few things one can do to verify the legitimacy of a Canadian pharmacy. Each registered pharmacy in Canada has a Provincial Pharmacy License, so having that license number will allow the person to call the Provincial Regulatory Authority in that Province to make sure the license is legitimate. If the pharmacy’s website doesn’t have that license number, then move on and find another one. But if it does, one can go to the website for the National Association of Pharmacy Regulatory Authorities (just do a search for NAPRA) to find the corresponding Regulatory Authority.

Another thing one can do is look for a physical address in Canada, and then make sure that address actually exists by pulling it up on a mapping website. A toll free phone number is also a good sign, as this can also be a good indicator that it’s a legitimate pharmacy. The patient shouldn’t be afraid to call the number and ask questions; after all, it’s his health that’s on the line.

Generally speaking, the more hoops the pharmacy requires one to jump through before shipping out the medication, the more legitimate it probably is. The pharmacy should always require a valid prescription from the patient’s doctor. Many fake pharmacy websites don’t require prescriptions, so that’s a good way to detect if the site is genuine or not. It should also require one’s medical history and a signed patient agreement before agreeing to send the drugs. Pharmacists at legitimate pharmacies actually care about the patients they cater to, so asking for this information is a way for them to double-check the legitimacy of the order.

In 2008 as part of their campaign promises, both Barack Obama and John McCain promised to open up this avenue for poor prescription drug buyers as a way to help the less fortunate. So the answer is yes, Canadian Pharmacies are generally safe—it’s the internet that is dangerous. By doing extensive research into the chosen pharmacy, one can greatly decrease the risk associated with this practice. Because it is currently illegal for Americans to buy prescription drugs this way, this writer is in no way recommending this activity, but if one still chooses this route, he should take care to verify the Canadian pharmacy is a legitimate one and not an online scam.


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