Over the past few decades, as the prevalence of the internet has continued to flourish, a new trend in the pharmaceutical field began to develop: the online pharmacy. Today, thousands of online pharmacies, both legitimate and fraudulent can be found across the world-wide-web. Of all of the countries that support the use of online pharmaceutical companies, few countries have been impacted by the boom of online pharmacies quite like Canada. With their affordable medications, and proximity to the United States, Canadian pharmacies have found a huge consumer-base in US citizens.
CANADIAN PHARMACY REVIEWS
The concept behind these sites is a simple one, online pharmacies are available to offer affordable, prescription medication to patients from around the globe, from a convenient virtual destination. As online pharmacies continue to become more and more popular for those looking to save on the cost of prescription medications, so have the number of fraudulent sites. With this is mind, consumers need to understand the anatomy of authentic online pharmacies and how they work, so that they can take advantage of legitimate web pharmacies and avoid rogue companies.
THE HISTORY OF ONLINE PHARMACIES
In 1999, one of the first major internet pharmacies launched out of the United Kingdom. The company, known as Pharmacy2U. The company changed their name in 2005 to the General Pharmaceutical Council, when new laws prevented online pharmacies from filling National Health Service prescriptions online. However, Pharmacy2U, opened up new doors for the online pharmacy industry in the UK, and now more than 2 million people across the United Kingdom regularly buy their drugs online from similar pharmacies. Pharmacy2U also helped spread the popularity of online medicinal trade throughout Europe, and the trend of international customers purchasing their drugs from pharmacies located in other countries. Many found they were able to access their medications from countries with different pricing standards on their drugs, to lessen the financial burden of prescription medication.
It didn’t take long for US consumers to catch on to this movement. With heightened drug prices and a difficult economy running rampant on the US market, many American consumers started turning to online pharmacies to save on the mounting costs of prescription medication. Reports have shown that the average buyer can save anywhere from 50 to 80 percent on the cost of most prescription drugs. In a matter of years the number of online pharmacies catering to the United States skyrocketed.
In a report from The Washington Post, it was revealed that millions of US citizens bring prescription drugs across the border from Mexico, and that more than 2 million have packages filled with prescriptions sent from countries such as India, Thailand and South Africa. However, the report revealed that most popular destination for American buyers when it comes to their prescription drugs, is Canada.
CANADA AND THE INTERNET PHARMACEUTICAL BOOM
When American consumers began to discover that they could easily buy prescription medications from right across the border in Canada, the Canadian market began to take off. Now Canada is one of the world’s leaders in online pharmaceuticals, with a majority of their customers coming from the United States. In addition to finding prescription medications at low prices, many consumers also enjoy the privacy and anonymity associated with buying prescription medications online. As the number of online pharmacies began to grow in Canada, several organizations were developed to help keep the process of buying drugs online as safe as possible. These organizations have already helped crack down on thousands of cases of illegal drug sale and companies that were selling counterfeit medication. These companies also work to help insure customers are abiding by the US restrictions placed on the type and quantity of drugs that American consumers are allowed to buy. These organizations are valuable tools for anyone from the United States or Canada who may be interested in purchasing from online Canadian pharmacies.
The Verified Internet Pharmacy Practice Site (VIPPS) is a valuable resource for those looking to buy prescription medication from trusted Canadian pharmacies. This site includes a list of verified, licensed Canadian pharmacies that abide by the 90-day prescription laws set forth by the United States. The goal of this organization is to help reduce the risks associated with buying prescription medications online. The company has links to all of their VIPPS verified online pharmacies, that meet the company’s strict standards.
This independent website rates different online pharmacies, providing in-depth reviews on each site, their validity and what they offer. The site checks for licensing, security with online information and whether or not the site has verifiable contact information. The company’s easy to read charts also let consumers know where the pharmacies ship to and whether or not they require a prescription. Many online pharmacies that have passed Pharmacy Checker’s rigorous tests will have the PharmacyChecker.com seal displayed on their website, along with the phrase “valid member” and the date of verification. To check the validity of this seal of approval, consumers should cross reference with the company’s website.
LegitScript is an established monitoring and verification service for online pharmacies. The site has an extensive list of approved online pharmacies as well as thousands of fraudulent online pharmacies. The company has also worked to report and shut down fraud pharmacies in an effort to keep everyday consumers safe. The company has also partnered with Google to help monitor online pharmacies from North America and around the globe. Their site can be used to determine the legitimacy of any online pharmacy before considering the purchase of any medication.
Any individual interested in buying prescription medication online from Canada, should first check with one of these sites to research reliable online pharmacies and to learn about safe practices when ordering drugs online.
AMERICAN BUYERS AND CANADIAN PHARMACIES ONLINE
When it comes to the thriving online pharmaceutical industry, Americans make up a large majority of the market. Price has always been a factor in the prevalence of American buyers using online Canadian pharmacies. According to the CIPA, the prices of their online pharmaceuticals are up to 80 percent less than comparable medications offered through pharmacies in the United States. As the difficult economic climate continues to impact US consumers, the promise of more affordable prescription drugs holds major appeal for those struggling financially.
In addition to limited finances, many in the United States do not have the means for medical insurance. In fact, a recent report from the New York City-based Commonwealth Fund, revealed that nearly half of adults ages 19 to 64 in the United States, do not have health insurance, or adequate insurance to cover high health care costs. This is an estimated 84 million people without the necessary insurance coverage. The low prices of online prescriptions, paired with the convenience of the digital pharmacy, gives many the opportunity to buy medications that they may not normally be able to access.
For many consumers, new to the world of online pharmacies, safety is a major concern. Many buyers are interested in the why behind low medication prices, and how these pharmacies can offer medications at such a drastically discounted price. The answer is actually quite simple; in Canada, the government regulates the prescription medication market and their prices, as part of their national universal health care initiative. These types of policies do not exist in the United States. In most situations, consumers are buying the exact same prescriptions that are offered in the United States, only without the retail mark-up. With no price control over medications, drug companies in the US are able to price their medications as they see fit, making the cost of many drugs simply unmanageable for the average consumer.
AMERICAN LAWS GOVERNING THE PURCHASE OF ONLINE PRESCRIPTIONS
The legality of ordering prescription medication online, is often a concern for the average US buyer. While importing drugs from international pharmacies is technically illegal, the FDA has stepped in to help consumers who need certain prescription medications. In the case of ordering from online pharmacies, individuals are typically allowed to import a small supply (90 day supply) of prescription drugs for their own personal use, without any penalties. The US government has also taken other steps to insure the safety of prescription drug consumers buying medications online. In fact, for several years, Minnesota, Illinois, Nevada and Wisconsin have all run state-official programs to help their residents order affordable drugs from abroad.
As more and more patients began to discover online pharmacies, some companies have tried to take advantage of the appeal of this industry. Unfortunately, for the many legitimate online pharmacies operating around the globe, a number of illegal, and unethical internet pharmacies also began popping up around the web. Many of these companies were controlled by criminal networks, allowed children or minors to order controlled substances, or sent outdated and counterfeit medications.
These pharmacies posed a serious threat to the industry, and to the customers that used them. In 2004, due to overwhelming congressional concerns over counterfeit drugs, new sites such as PharmacyChecker.com were launched to help identify the validity of certain web-based pharmacies. In 2008, the Ryan Haight Online Consumer Protection Act passed, which banned online pharmacies from the sale of controlled substances based online on online patient consultations.
These movements have helped make certain that those who choose to buy their prescriptions online can do so in confidence, knowing they are buying safe drugs from reputable sources. When buying drugs through a Canadian pharmacy, buyers should remember that any package containing prescription drugs may be seized by US Customs and Border Protection. Customers only need to provide proof, such as a valid prescription, to show they are allowed to receive the drugs. Typically, customers are only targeted if the drugs are imported in large quantities, indicated an intent to sell. Fortunately, this is rarely an issue for the average consumer as most legal drugs are only sold in 90-day quantities.
WHAT DRUGS ARE AVAILABLE THROUGH CANADIAN PHARMACIES ONLINE
Consumers looking to buy their medications online will find that while there are many prescription drugs available through these web-based pharmacies, not all types of drugs are legally available on the internet. No legitimate online pharmacy will sell controlled substances to consumers, even if they do have a prescription. A controlled substance is any drug that has the potential for abuse or dependence. These drugs can be as intense as oxycotin or morphine or as common as certain cold medications. However, non-habit forming drugs are readily available through many online pharmacies. These are some of the most prevalent medications purchased through web-based pharmaceutical companies today.
Antibiotics are frequently prescribed by health care providers to help treat infections from bacteria and certain parasites. With the proper prescription, many patients are able to order their antibiotics for an affordable price through their Canadian pharmacy. Pills such as Rifadin, Minocin and Minocycline, can typically be purchased right online.
Hair Loss Treatments
Hair loss is a common condition that can actually be treated with the appropriate medication. Propecia is a popular drug used to treat male baldness, and it is readily available through many Canadian pharmacies. Ointments and creams such as Corticosteroids can easily be purchased online as can medications that act in a similar manner to Propecia such as Finasteride.
Men’s Health Medications
Men who experience issues with erectile disfunction (ED) can find the appropriate medication they need online. With a prescription, items such as Viagra, Cialis and Levitra can also be found online. Many shoppers prefer the privacy and anonymity offered from online pharmacies when purchasing this type of medication.
For the many people who suffer from asthma and related respiratory conditions, prescription medication can provide relief from breathing restrictions. Canadian pharmacies are known for carrying a large collection of today’s leading asthma medications, such as Advair, Flovent and Dulera. These prescriptions are often available both in inhaler and traditional medication forms.
Stomach Acid and Heartburn Medications
Individuals suffering from heartburn, indigestion issues, stomach acid reflux and related conditions, often rely on medication to help relieve their symptoms. Protonix is one of the most popular US licensed acid reflux medications available, and it is readily offered through online Canadian pharmacies. Other medications, such as Prilosec are some of the most frequently purchased items on Canadian pharmacy sites.
Prescription drugs that act as an anti-inflammatory are popular treatments for those dealing with arthritis and joint pain. Celebrex, Celecoxx and Cobix are popular anti-inflammatory medications used to help reduce the symptoms of arthritis, including Rheumatoid Arthritis and Osteoarthritis.
For many adults, high cholesterol is a serious issue that can put people at risk for a heart attack or stroke. Medications such as Crestor or Rosuvastatin can be purchased online to help patients maintain a healthy cholesterol level.
CONSIDERATIONS FOR BUYING CANADIAN DRUGS ONLINE
Filling prescriptions online can be a convenient, and budget-friendly process for any consumer. However, for first time buyers, understanding the types of drugs and the types of pharmacies available to US patients is important. Not all online pharmacies are legitimate resources for quality medications.
HOW TO FIND LEGITIMATE ONLINE PHARMACIES
For most individuals, when shopping for online prescription medications, the biggest concern is always safety. Finding a legitimate online pharmacy can be difficult, with the large number of scam pharmacies on the market. This is why there are several considerations to keep in mind when it comes to located a licensed online pharmacy.
- Make certain that the pharmacy clearly displays a business, name, address, and physical location under the contact information. The address should be a Canadian one. There have been issues with companies claiming they operate out of Canada, when they are really bringing in counterfeit drugs from the Caribbean.
- Authentic online Canadian pharmacies should require a valid prescription and ask patients to fill out information on their medical history before purchase.
- Customers should be able to find the Provincial Pharmacy License number on the pharmacy’s website. If the company does not have this license, they should not be used.
- All reputable online pharmacies should have a licensed pharmacist available to offer patient consultations.
- Any pharmacy that accepts payments should offer customers with complete assurance that their personal information is kept confidential.
- Pharmacies should be credited by either PharmacyChecker.com, Pharmacy Accreditation Services or the Canadian International Pharmacy Association. These three organizations monitor online pharmacies and inform the public which companies are reputable ones.
Consumers must keep all of these qualifications in mind when shopping for their medications to insure a safe purchase.
CALCULATING THE COST OF CANADIAN PRESCRIPTION DRUGS
When buying drugs online, the first and most important consideration is always safety. However, it is also important to remember that sometimes the drugs may be more expensive than consumers originally assume. There is a difference in the Canadian dollar as opposed to the US dollar, so this can influence the overall price of a drug upon check out. When American customers shop for Canadian drugs online, they will receive a quote in the Canadian dollar. The difference between the two fluctuates daily. It may influence the overall cost of the drug by a few cents or a few dollars. Using a currency converter prior to shopping can help determine the difference in price.
Delivery costs for shipping an item from Canada to the US should also be taken into account when buying these drugs online. The cost of shipping a package from Canada to certain areas of the United States can impact the overall cost of medication drastically.
BEST CANADIAN PHARMACY REVIEWS
Fortunately, for consumers looking for legitimate and safe online Canadian pharmacies, there are several resources that provide valuable reviews of these pharmaceutical sites. It is important to always read reviews from a third party source before deciding to use an online pharmacy. Unfortunately, due to the overwhelming number of illegitimate Canadian pharmacies, there are some sites that may post fake or misleading reviews about their company in an attempt to lure in customers. This is why third party review sites are always the most trustworthy.
VIPPS has links to countless reviews of legitimate pharmacies, and presents their research on online pharmaceutical companies in an organized and easy to read format. The CIPA has their link to reputable pharmacies as well. Pharmacy Checker is perhaps one of the most used and trusted sites for online pharmacy reviews, and can provide interested customers with the insight they need on reputable companies.
The only way to safely determine whether or not an online Canadian pharmacy is a reputable one is to do the proper research and read reviews from verified past customers. This can help any person looking to find the prescription medications they need online, make a safe and well-informed decision before purchasing.