Drugs From Online Canadian Pharmacies Come From Many Places—But Not Canada
Don‘t Give Up FDA Safety for Mystery Drugs
Why not import medicine from online Canadian pharmacies?
- They're not Canadian. Importing drugs from Canada sounds as if it would solve the issue of high prescription drug costs in the U.S., but that’s just a good soundbite. The truth is that the drugs Americans buy online “from Canada” are not actually Canadian, and Health Canada has even warned Canadians not to buy them.
- Canadian pharmacists are not supposed to be selling Canadian-approved drugs to you. To get Health Canada-approved drugs, you need to have a prescription written by a Canadian doctor and even then, a Canadian pharmacist can’t legally mail those pills to you in the U.S. Some online pharmacies will pay a doctor to sign off on American prescriptions, but that violates the standards of care for doctors in every Canadian province. If a company doesn’t mind a doctor or a pharmacist breaking the law, can you trust them with your health?
- Canada doesn't have enough medicine to supply Americans. Americans think Canada has a magical, unlimited supply of drugs, but it is not true. Canada tries to get enough medication to support their 37 million citizens, but they have their own drug shortages and their own crisis with counterfeit medicines. The U.S. has nine times the population of Canada, and if even 20% of U.S. residents started purchasing their medications from the Canadian drug supply, we would use up their supply of prescription drugs in just five months.
- No one is checking to make sure those drugs are safe. So if these online pharmacies are not selling drugs from Canada, what are they selling? Drugs from many other countries. The closest your imported pills might come to being Canadian is if they are transshipped through the country. Transshipping is like an airport layover: there is some security at the first airport and maybe a bit at the last, but authorities in the middle know you are just passing through so they don’t pay you any mind. Canadian authorities are not inspecting to make sure those drugs are safe or even what you ordered.
- Black market pill sellers are in it for the money. Pills imported from unlicensed online pharmacies often come from illegal labs operating around the world. Counterfeiters are in the business of making money for themselves. Counterfeit medicines may look real, but have too little, too much or no active ingredient. They’ve been found to contain heavy metals, antifreeze, rat poison, PCBs, boric acid, road paint, and ineffective fillers like salt, saline, starch and dextrose. Any way you look at it, those pills are not good for you.
- It is virtually impossible to hold black market pill sellers responsible. If the medicine you bought online makes you sick, good luck getting any justice. Even with proof that one "online Canadian pharmacy" sent non-FDA approved drugs to over 500 doctors offices around the country between 2009 and 2012, and got an indictment against the company in 2014, the full weight of the American justice system passed these people by. The case was recently settled with no jail time for anyone involved and the companies being allowed to continue to operate.
- The FDA keeps our drug supply safe. The World Health Organization estimates that in some places in the world, people have to live with the reality that up to 10% of the drugs they can buy are counterfeit. Americans don’t have to deal with that because the FDA works to keep our drug chain supply secure. If something goes wrong, someone can be held accountable for any failures in the system.The FDA has said that allowing drug importation would make “it easier for unapproved drugs, which may include counterfeit or other substandard drugs, to reach American patients, putting their treatment at risk.”
Right now, the U.S.’s secure drug supply chain is the only thing keeping most of those counterfeit drugs out of our country. Allowing drug importation would only open the floodgates.