The Risks and Rewards of Buying Medications from a Canadian Pharmacy

With the rapidly increasing costs of prescription drugs in the United States, many individuals have sought refuge in Canadian pharmacies as a means to save money. While these pharmacies do offer lower prices, there are also several potential dangers associated with ordering drugs from a foreign country. This article takes a critical look at the reality of buying medication from Canadian pharmacies and presents ten real-life customer experiences.


  1. Legal concerns: It is technically illegal for American citizens to import prescription drugs from foreign countries, including Canada, for personal use. However, the FDA generally does not enforce this law for individuals who import a three-month supply or less for personal use.
  2. Counterfeit drugs: There is a risk of receiving fake drugs that may contain harmful ingredients, be less effective, or have incorrect dosages.
  3. Quality control: Canadian pharmacies are not subject to the jurisdiction of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), so the quality and safety of their products cannot be guaranteed.
  4. Shipping delays: Ordering medication from another country can result in longer shipping times, which may be problematic for those who need their prescriptions immediately.


  1. Cost savings: Canadian pharmacies often offer lower prices on drugs compared to the United States due to Canada’s nationalized healthcare system that negotiates drug prices.
  2. Accessibility: Some drugs that are not available or in short supply in the U.S. may be more accessible through Canadian pharmacies.
  3. Convenience: Ordering medication online from Canadian pharmacies can be convenient for those who have trouble accessing a local pharmacy or prefer to have their prescriptions delivered to their doorstep.

How to check the legitimacy of a Canadian pharmacy?

To verify the legitimacy of a Canadian pharmacy, there are several steps you can follow:

  1. Verify the license: Check for the Canadian International Pharmacy Association logo on the website or contact the organisation to verify the pharmacy’s membership.
  2. Read online reviews: Search for feedback from previous customers to see their experiences with the pharmacy.
  3. Ensure website security: Confirm that the website has a secure connection (HTTPS) and if there is a clear privacy policy in place.
  4. Check medication approval: Ensure that the medications offered by the pharmacy are authorized by Health Canada.
  5. Get in touch with the pharmacy: You can contact the pharmacy via phone or email to ask any questions about their services and drugs.

By implementing these steps, you can raise the chances of finding a trustworthy and safe Canadian pharmacy for your medication needs.

Why are Canadian Prices Lower than those in the U.S.?

One of the main reasons people opt for Canadian pharmacies for their medication is the substantial price difference compared to U.S. pharmacies. The following factors contribute to this price discrepancy:

  1. Price Regulations: The Canadian government regulates the prices of prescription drugs through the Patented Medicine Prices Review Board (PMPRB). The PMPRB ensures that patented drug prices are reasonable and in line with those in other developed countries. In contrast, the U.S. lacks similar price regulations, allowing pharmaceutical companies to set their own prices.
  2. Bulk Purchasing Power: In Canada, the government negotiates drug prices directly with pharmaceutical manufacturers, leveraging its bulk purchasing power through the nationalized healthcare system to secure better deals and lower prices for consumers. In contrast, the U.S. healthcare system is more fragmented, with multiple private insurers, making it difficult to negotiate lower prices collectively.
  3. Lower Administrative Costs: Canadian pharmacies tend to have lower administrative costs due to their nationalized healthcare system, while the complex U.S. healthcare system with multiple private insurers can result in higher administrative expenses that are passed on to consumers.

Comparison of U.S. and Canadian Medication Prices

To highlight the difference in prices between US and Canadian pharmacies, consider the costs of three frequently prescribed medications:

  1. Lipitor (atorvastatin) – a commonly prescribed cholesterol-lowering drug: US Price: A 30-day supply of Lipitor (40 mg) in the US can cost anywhere from $120 to $150. Canadian Price: The same 30-day supply of Lipitor (40 mg) from a Canadian pharmacy can cost between $40 and $60.
  2. Advair Diskus (fluticasone propionate/salmeterol) – a medication for asthma and COPD: US Price: A one-month supply of Advair Diskus (250/50 mcg) in the US can cost around $350 to $400. Canadian Price: A Canadian pharmacy may offer the same one-month supply of Advair Diskus (250/50 mcg) for around $100 to $130.
  3. Crestor (rosuvastatin) – another widely prescribed cholesterol medication: US Price: A 30-day supply of Crestor (20 mg) in the US can range from $200 to $250. Canadian Price: A Canadian pharmacy may charge between $60 and $80 for the same 30-day supply of Crestor (20 mg).

These examples demonstrate the substantial price differences between US and Canadian pharmacies, which prompts many Americans to consider purchasing their medication from Canada. However, it is important to remember the associated risks, such as legal issues, counterfeit drugs, quality control, and shipping delays, before making a decision.

Despite these potential dangers, the lower prices in Canadian pharmacies can be appealing to those who are struggling with the high cost of prescription drugs in the US. It is therefore crucial for individuals to carefully weigh the benefits and drawbacks and make an informed decision about whether ordering medication from Canadian pharmacies is right for them.

The lower prices in Canadian pharmacies are primarily due to government price regulations, bulk purchasing power, and lower administrative costs. These factors, combined with the significant price differences between US and Canadian pharmacies, make it a tempting option for many Americans to consider when it comes to their medication.

Conclusions: To Buy or Not to Buy?

In conclusion, purchasing drugs from Canadian pharmacies can bring advantages such as cost-effectiveness, availability, and comfort. However, there are also potential drawbacks such as legal problems, counterfeit drugs, lack of quality assurance, and shipping disruptions. Based on real-life customer feedback, there is a mixture of positive and negative experiences with some users reporting satisfaction and others raising concerns about quality and security.

Ultimately, the choice to use a Canadian pharmacy should be made with careful consideration of personal factors, preferences, and the particular drugs being sought. It is crucial to thoroughly research the pharmacy in question and weigh the potential risks and benefits before making a decision.