Why did CanadaDrugs close? Are there safe online pharmacies Americans can order from?
CanadaDrugs.com was accredited in the PharmacyChecker Verification Program from 2005 until March 2018. In February 2018, CanadaDrugs.com withdrew from our program. CanadaDrugs.com closed its website and stopped selling medications to Americans beginning June 13th, 2018.
This was an unfortunate outcome of a case that did not involve medication sales through the CanadaDrugs.com website, which had been safely selling medication at low cost to Americans and internationally for many years. The case involved a wholesale business affiliate of CanadaDrugs and its owner. Sadly, in 2011, two counterfeit batches of the cancer medication, Avastin, entered the supply chain of that wholesale business that were sold to medical offices in the United States. Avastin was never sold on the CanadaDrugs.com website.
In a plea bargain signed on April 13th, 2018 with the U.S. Department of Justice, the owners of CanadaDrugs.com forfeit the website www.CanadaDrugs.com and other websites they operate to the U.S. government. The FDA recognized that there was no urgency to shutting down CanadaDrugs.com, giving them 90 days to wind down their international retail pharmacy business. To that effect, CanadaDrugs were informing their patients and website visitors that they were closing on July 13th, 2018.
March 2022 Update
In March 2022, an appeals court in Manitoba shed new light on this case. The judge reinstated the pharmacist license of the founder and CEO of CanadaDrugs, Kris Thorkelson, overturning the decision of the Council of the Manitoba College of Pharmacists. As I see it, this case is more evidence of how groups funded by the pharmaceutical industry grossly mischaracterized the defendants to try and make importation of lower-cost drugs seem dangerous.
According to the decision, Mr. Thorkelson’s license was wrongly revoked in 2019, based on the Council’s position, that Thorkelson was “convicted of an offence relevant to his suitability to practice pharmacy.” Instead, the judge held Mr. Thorkelson did nothing to justify taking away his pharmacist license. For clarity: as a matter of public safety and health, there was no reason to take away Mr. Thorkelson’s pharmacist license. The judge wrote:
The College argued that [Thorkelson] was motivated by profit at the expense of his ethical obligations. I see no basis to say this.”
Other important takeaways here from the evidence presented to the court:
- CanadaDrugs.com never sold a counterfeit drug.
- CanadaDrugs.con never pled guilty to the sale of a counterfeit drug.
- Defendants in this case quickly and responsibly notified the necessary regulatory authorities that a counterfeit drug was discovered in their supply chain.
- The UK’s counterpart to the FDA, the Medicine and Healthcare Products Regulatory Authority (MHRA) investigated the defendant in this case who was responsible for the counterfeit drug distribution into the U.S. and found that they “acted quickly and appropriately as soon as it learned there was a problem.”
- MHRA “ took possession of the Avastin” and told the defendant that it would notify the FDA.
- Kris Thorkelson and CanadaDrugs.com believed the FDA was notified.
For more analysis on this, see Manitoba Judge’s Opinion Reveals Different Side of the CanadaDrugs Case.
In the Winnipeg Free Press, see https://www.winnipegfreepress.com/local/dose-of-leniency-576270202.html.
For more historical information on CanadaDrugs.com, please read our blog post.
Up and Running Mail Order Pharmacies
This case does not apply to all Canadian online pharmacies, just CanadaDrugs.com and other websites it may operate. For future medication orders, you can consult our list of current PharmacyChecker accredited Canadian and other international online pharmacies. Also, look up your medication by name to compare prices across trustworthy international online pharmacies.