Prescription drugs can be expensive, and sometimes the cheapest way is to buy them through a foreign pharmacy online. Keep reading below to learn more.
Prescription drug expenditure in the U.S. could reach as high as $338 billion in 2018.
The already-high costs of prescription drugs are rising. As a result, many Americans have started buying their prescriptions from a foreign pharmacy.
But how do you know you’re buying your prescriptions from a legitimate source? And are online foreign pharmacies safe?
If you’re looking to purchase your prescriptions online, you need to understand the risks. You should also know what to look for in a reputable company.
We’ll tell you all that and more. Read on before putting in your online order.
Why Buy Prescriptions Drugs from a Foreign Pharmacy?
There are a number of reasons why you might consider purchasing your prescriptions from an online pharmacy.
The biggest driver is usually cost. Approximately 8% of U.S. citizens don’t take their medications because they’re unable to afford them. Foreign pharmacies offer a substantially more affordable alternative for buying brand-name drugs.
Another reason for buying prescription drugs from online foreign pharmacies is availability. Foreign pharmacies may have access to drugs that aren’t currently or readily available in the U.S.
People may purchase prescription drugs online to protect their privacy. Purchasing drugs from an online foreign pharmacy that doesn’t require a prescription means not having to have awkward conversations with your doctor.
Whatever the reason for purchasing from an overseas pharmacy, there’s a lot to know when you’re buying prescriptions and medications online.
Understand the Law
It’s illegal to purchase controlled substances without a prescription. In order to legally buy prescriptions, you’re required to hold a prescription for the medication that’s written by a licensed physician. This physician has to evaluate your need for the prescription whether it’s for narcotic painkillers, stimulants, sedatives, and/or anabolic steroids.
It’s also illegal to purchase drugs from a foreign country for “personal importation” or “reimportation.” The definition of these laws are as follows:
- Personal importation: The FDA defines this as bringing prescription drugs purchased in a foreign country into the U.S. for personal consumption.
- Reimportation: This is when you purchase a drug that was manufactured in the U.S. in a foreign country and bring it back to the U.S. for consumption. Whether the drug is FDA approved or not is irrelevant. This practice is against the law for purchases both in person and via mail.
These laws apply to all foreign countries. Even making a prescription purchase in Canada or Mexico can result in legal trouble.
However, the FDA laws regarding personal importation and reimportation are more strictly enforced on commercial distributors and resellers than on individuals. The FDA is more lenient when it comes to individuals purchasing drugs from a foreign pharmacy and bringing them home for personal use.
To avoid legal complications, the FDA has created guidelines for filling prescriptions through an overseas pharmacy:
- The drug is declared at Customs and is accompanied by a prescription or medical documentation.
- The amount being brought into the U.S. is less than or equal to a three-month supply.
- When an individual has a serious condition and could benefit from a drug that’s not approved in the U.S.
If you meet these criteria, you’re legally allowed to bring foreign-bought prescriptions into the country.
Choose Your Pharmacy
The National Association of Boards of Pharmacy (NABP) found that only 3% of online pharmacies were compliant with laws and practice standards. That’s how fake drugs and medications without active ingredients get sold to consumers. Some of the drugs sold online can even contain ingredients that are harmful to your health.
This is why choosing the right pharmacy is so important. An attractive website isn’t enough to prove a provider is legitimate.
Don’t trust a site that attempts to sell you any kind of controlled substance via advertisements. It’s against the law for pharmacies to ship or sell narcotics, controlled, or targeted substances.
It’s not too tough to find legitimate Canadian online pharmacies. You can also seek a fully-licensed online foreign pharmacy from Australia, Western Europe, or New Zealand.
You can find the licensing number on the website. If you don’t see it, you can ask the pharmacy and verify it with the licensing organization in that country. You can also trust pharmacies with a blue and red Verified Internet Pharmacy Practices seal from the NABP.
Keep in mind that the prescription is key. This important link between doctor-patient-pharmacy will be required by a legitimate online pharmacy. If the pharmacy doesn’t ask for a prescription or a medical/prescription history, that’s a red flag.
Another thing to look out for is the domain of the online foreign pharmacy. Sites that end in .pharmacy have to get special approval from the NAPB. Though, many .com pharmacies don’t use the designation and are still safe to use.
Things to Keep in Mind
Below are a few quick tips to keep in mind when you’re shopping for your prescriptions online:
- Avoid sites that sell drugs without the need for a prescription
- Avoid sites that offer to provide you with a prescription
- Check the currency-conversion before buying — you might not be saving as much as you think
- Check the label of your prescription when it arrives
- Don’t buy products without a list of ingredients that are in a language you can read and verify
With just a few simple tips, you can save yourself on prescription costs while protecting your health.
Alternatives to Buying Online
If you’re purchasing prescriptions online for convenience sake, you might also consider a preferred mail-order pharmacy. Perfect for seniors who take daily or regular medication, your insurer may cover the cost of working with a pharmacy that sends prescriptions directly to your home — without any of the risks of online pharmacies.
More Health Advice
If you’re unable to afford your prescriptions, an online foreign pharmacy might be an alternative solution for you. But before you make a purchase, understand the risks and know how to choose the right pharmacy. Buying from a foreign pharmacy with a prescription isn’t illegal if you follow the right guidelines and processes.
And for more health advice and information, be sure to read our blog.