Is it illegal to order medication online from Canada in 2020?
Millions of Americans use online pharmacies, located in Canada and elsewhere, each year. In a 2016 poll, the Kaiser Family Foundation found that 8% of respondents said they or a member of their household had imported prescription drugs to save money. A recent study in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that 2.3 million Americans import medication for prescription savings each year. In another poll, 78% of respondents supported the legalization of prescription drug importation from Canada.
Consumers seeking cheaper medication should be wary of pharmacies on the internet; always be sure to evaluate using the following metrics, which are the bare minimum of the requirements of the PharmacyChecker Verification Program:
Does the pharmacy require a prescription in order to obtain medication?
Does the pharmacy dispense medication using a licensed pharmacy?
Is the pharmacy easy to contact using information on the website?
Does the pharmacy have a licensed pharmacist on-call to discuss your prescriptions?
Is importing drugs from another country illegal?
Technically, under most circumstances, it is illegal to import prescription medication for personal use, but the FDA has stated that it will not prosecute anyone who does import drugs from another country. According to the FDA’s website, the department uses its enforcement discretion under the following circumstances.
The drug, which treats a severe condition, is not currently available in the U.S.
The drug is not widely available to U.S. residents.
The drug does not bear “unreasonable risk.”
The person importing the drug can prove that the medication is for the individual alone; the person should also have a valid prescription from a licensed practitioner.
The individual only imports a three-month supply of medication.
Unfortunately, amid the 2020 COVID-19 crisis, FDA seizures of imported drugs increased, according to an April 2020 report from the Miami Herald. The seizures may or may not be related to concerns regarding potential COVID-19 treatments; interceptions of such packages periodically spike, despite growing political support for drug importation in the U.S.
Can I import controlled substances from online pharmacies?
No, and this is one of the most common and correct reasons many online pharmacies are seen as dangerous. Rogue internet pharmacies can take advantage of those facing addiction by offering cheap addictive drugs, like prescription opioids. Accredited, safe online pharmacies will not allow you to purchase controlled substances for import. You should not purchase Adderall (amphetamine salt combo) from an international online pharmacy, nor Xanax (alprazolam), OxyContin (oxycodone), and the like. Doing so may put your health and finances at risk.
Research shows that foreign drugs from properly accredited online pharmacies are equal in safety to drugs sold in U.S. pharmacies.
Campaigns against online pharmacies use the argument that the drugs sold from foreign pharmacies may be “counterfeit.” But serious peer-reviewed research shows that consumers who stick to credentialed sites, whether ones approved by NABP or PharmacyChecker, for example, are equally safe.
Through testing almost 1,000 drug orders over a decade from online pharmacies, economist and drug quality expert Roger Bate PhD, visiting scholar with the American Enterprise Institute, has determined that properly credentialed international online pharmacies, including those accredited specifically PharmacyChecker, are as safe as U.S. pharmacies, such as those accredited by the NABP.
See: Personal medicine importation: What are the risks, and how can they be mitigated?
Essentially, purchasing drugs from properly verified pharmacies abroad is a no-brainer in terms of safety.