Canadian and American Pharmacists Associations Jointly Warn Against Drug Importation Policies

On February 28, 2019, the Canadian Pharmacists Association (CPhA) and the American Pharmacists Association (APhA) published a joint statement opposing drug importation because of risks to patient safety and continuity of care.

American and Canadian pharmacist associations warn that drug importation policies could put patients at risk

The Canadian Pharmacists Association (CPhA) and the American Pharmacists Association (APhA) are issuing a joint statement in opposition to U.S. federal legislation authorizing personal and commercial importation of prescription drugs from Canada. While we recognize the desire to address affordability issues in the U.S., we strongly oppose the importation of prescription drugs from Canada because of the risks these policies pose to patient safety and continuity of care.


As pharmacists, patient safety and optimal medication use are among our top concerns when providing care. When pharmacists dispense medications, they review and assess all available health information to ensure that medications are safe and appropriate for their patients. This includes identifying possible drug interactions and other adverse events and communicating and resolving any concerns with the patients’ prescribers.


Canadian pharmacies may only dispense medications prescribed by a Canadian prescriber. This regulation is in place to protect the safety of patients by ensuring that physicians and pharmacists have established relationships with their patients and knowledge of their medical histories. As such, recently proposed personal drug importation policies pose additional challenges which have not been contemplated. For example, in order for U.S. patients to obtain their medication from a Canadian pharmacy, they would need to see a Canadian physician directly or have a cosigned prescription from a U.S. and Canadian physician with whom the patient has an established relationship. These processes can lead to fragmented care and pose safety issues for the patient as their Canadian physician and pharmacist may not have access to their full health record.


In addition to potentially exacerbating legitimate supply chain issues that impact patient safety, such as Canadian drug shortages and recalls, importation policies may encourage patients to purchase medications from online pharmacies. Some online pharmacies are entities selling counterfeit drugs and operating outside Canadian and American laws. These entities are difficult to detect and control due their sophistication and the large number in operation. Should the importation policies advance in U.S. federal legislation, we anticipate an influx of U.S. patients receiving illicit, counterfeit or otherwise harmful products from websites posing as Canadian online pharmacies. As organizations representing Canadian and American pharmacists, CPhA and APhA are eager to protect patients and clarify the implications of drug importation policies on patients and health care providers in our countries.


About the American Pharmacists Association

The American Pharmacists Association, founded in 1852 as the American Pharmaceutical Association, is a 501 (c)(6) organization, representing 60,000 practicing pharmacists, pharmaceutical scientists, student pharmacists, pharmacy technicians and others interested in advancing the profession. APhA is dedicated to helping all pharmacists improve medication use and advance patient care and is the first-established and largest association of pharmacists in the United States. For more information, please visit

About the Canadian Pharmacists Association

The Canadian Pharmacists Association (CPhA) is the uniting national voice of pharmacy and the pharmacist profession in Canada. As pharmacists undertake an enhanced role in the delivery of health care services, CPhA ensures that the profession is recognized as a national leader in health care, influencing the policies, programs, budgets and initiatives affecting the profession and the health of Canadians. More information is available at