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Before reading this article, it is advisable to read about purchasing prescription drugs outside of the U.S. in general. See Purchasing Prescription Drugs Outside Of The U.S.

Drugs prices are usually (though not always) much lower in Canada than in the United States. This is mainly because Canada regulates drug prices.

As compared to purchasing drugs from our other neighbor, Mexico, purchasing drugs in Canada is considered to be less risky than Mexico because the Canadian regulatory system is more like our own. For instance, the Canadian distribution system is more tightly controlled than the U.S. system. Also, Canadian pharmacies require a doctor's prescription.

Drugs from Canada can be purchased a variety of ways:

  • By physically going to Canada.
  • Via the internet.
  • By calling a pharmacy in Canada directly. 
  • By using one of the new companies that have sprung up in the U.S. to import drugs from Canada.

See the other sections of this article for more information about each of these subjects.

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Purchasing Prescription Drugs By Going To Canada

Before you go to Canada:

  • Make arrangements to see a doctor who is licensed to write prescriptions in Canada. Many U.S. doctors who are located near the Canadian border have dual licenses. (If you see a U.S. doctor, your visit may be covered by your insurance company or by Medicare.) 
  • Get a copy of your prescription from a U.S. doctor.
  • Pull out your passport. You now need it to get back into the U.S.
  • Call ahead to be sure the drugs you want are available in Canada.

When in Canada, only purchase from a licensed pharmacy.

  • You can eyeball a pharmacy to see whether it seems to be reputable or whether it is just set up for Americans. 
  • If there is a question, call the Provincial Regulatory Authority to confirm that the pharmacy's license is genuine. You can locate local regulators at the following web sites:

Before you leave the store, check to see that you  receive the correct drug at the proper dosage.

If you need help: U.S. nonprofits that help people of any age fill prescriptions from licensed Canadian pharmacies are:

Purchasing Prescription Drugs From Canada On The Internet

If you are considering purchasing drugs from an internet provider that says the drugs are from Canada, check to see:

  • If the site is Canadian.
  • The drugs are from Canada.
  • If the site is reputable. There have reportedly been sites which claim to sell drugs from Canada when they actually provide product from unregulated third world countries or that are really only a front to scam people out of their money entirely. LIkewise, some sites use certificates which appear to be official looking but aren't.

To find out if a Canadian website is reputable, look for the pharmacy's license number and the name of the authority that granted it. To confirm that the pharmacy is indeed licensed, call the College of Pharmacy in the particular province. You can locate local regulators at the following web sites: 

A reputable site will require a doctor's prescription, which will be reviewed by a Canadian doctor as required by Canadian law. Also:

  • Patients should be required to submit details of their medical history.
  • There should be a phone number and address so you can speak with a pharmacist.
  • There should be a pharmacist available to explain the differences, if any, between the American and Canadian drugs.

NOTE: You may be required to sign a limited power of attorney which provides the Canadian company the right to buy medications for you and to then ship them to you in the U.S.

Calling A Pharmacy In Canada

It is advisable to only deal with a licensed pharmacy. You can locate a pharmacy in Canada and call them directly.   Many Canadian pharmacies ship to the U.S.

A way you can find out info on a pharmacy in Ontario is to call the OCPA " Ontario College of Pharmacists Association." Ontarios OCP phone number is 1-800-220-1921 or (416) 962-4861 

Outside of Ontario, call the College of Pharmacy in the particular province. You can locate local regulators at the following web sites: 

For more information about licensing, see the section above about internet pharmacies.

Purchasing Groups To Purchase Drugs From Canada

Another alternative is to buy drugs through groups that arrange such purchases, such as The United Health Alliance in Bennington, Vt. The organization has devised a system for purchasing drugs from Canada without leaving the country. For additional information, contact the United Health Alliance at 802.447.3710 or visit their site online at offsite link.

There are stores in the U.S. that obtain drugs from Canada for U.S. patients. However, the FDA is cracking down on them, though so far not on the patients who order the drugs. Given the risks, if you deal with such a company, it is best not to pay for drugs until they are delivered.