How Americans Can Get Their Prescriptions from Canada
It’s no secret that American medical and prescription costs are increasingly becoming unaffordable.
Just last year, the EpiPen, which treats sudden allergic reactions (including potentially fatal ones), spiked in price overnight to $600.
Before that, Daraprim, a drug that helps those suffering from AIDS, rose in price overnight by 5,000%.
And this occurs even with a huge selection of drugs that didn’t exist twenty years ago.
Thanks to such steep price hikes, many Americans are now considering filling their prescriptions at a Canadian pharmacy (or even an online one) over an American one.
There are both an upside and a downside to patients looking outside of America for cheaper medication:
The downside of filling at a Canadian pharmacy
The first issue is general costs.
While Canadian drugs might cost less, there is the cost of shipping and handling to consider.
Sometimes, the cost of shipping and handling plus the drug actually makes it more expensive than if it were purchased at an American pharmacy.
Then there’s the fluctuating American dollar versus Canadian dollar value.
Generally speaking, $15 USD equals $20 CAD, but that’s subject to change every day.
And, of course, drugs purchased at a Canadian pharmacy will be sold in CAD.
Another issue is it’s technically illegal.
By law, the Food and Drug Administration must approve all drugs manufactured and sold within the United States.
Drugs manufactured outside of the United States are out of its jurisdiction.
Plus, while most online pharmacies are found to be legitimate, a few have been found to sell poor-quality drugs.
The upside of filling at a Canadian pharmacy
Thankfully, though, drugs purchased in Canada are on the whole much cheaper than those purchased in America.
For example, let’s take the drug Copaxone, which is used to treat multiple sclerosis.
A one month supply in Canada can be as low as $1200, but in the US, it can cost at least $4,500.
That’s because the Canadian government controls the prices of drugs sold in its pharmacies.
It regulates costs so pharmacies and companies can’t charge whatever they want. Thus, prices must stay within a certain range.
In America, there is no regulation over drug prices, which is why outrageous price hikes are allowed.
Pharmacies and companies can charge patients whatever they want. That spells bad news for patients’ bank accounts.
So really, it isn’t hard to see why American patients are shopping outside of their home country for better (and in some cases, affordable) prices on their prescriptions.
Although technically illegal, the FDA isn’t quick to prosecute those who fill their prescriptions at a Canadian pharmacy.
Generally speaking, they sometimes overlook drug importation from Canada, as long as the drugs are for personal use and the patient has only a three-month supply of them.
There is also a movement among states to allow residents to purchase drugs from state-approved, non-American pharmacies.
This movement is called the “I-SaveRx” program. States that have already approved the program include Kansas, Missouri, Wisconsin, and Illinois.
Given the movement towards more options available outside of the United States, it’s best to consider all options on the table when filling a prescription.