Yes, we are successfully taking, processing and delivering affordable prescription drugs throughout the coronavirus crisis.
TOLL-FREE PHONE: 1-866-539-5330
TOLL-FREE FAX: 1-866-539-5331

How Are Canadian Pharmacies Rated?

November 14, 2019

online pharmacy safety

Computer on desk

If a person looking to buy from an international or Canadian pharmacy were to start searching online for information, they're likely to find a mixed bag. Many results will question the legitimacy of online international pharmacies (even calling out the accreditation organizations who provide validity and trust). Meanwhile, others — often on the same search results page — will try to quell the fear mongering.

Even organizations like Consumer Reports quote statistics cautioning citizens from ordering prescriptions from online pharmacies, saying that even accredited websites dispense inaccurate (or counterfeit) medication to customers. Consumer Reports has been heavily criticized for this.

The truth of the matter is that there are many legitimate and trustworthy online Canadian pharmacies that are rated very highly by both industry watchdogs and the satisfied customers who purchased and received the correct medication. There are two major organizations in Canada that help assure the safety and efficacy of online pharmacies, as well as multiple customer-based and security-based organizations to help people make smart decisions.

Here are the major groups rating online pharmacies — and who you can trust (and who you should question).

Online Pharmacy Rating and Accrediting Organizations

Canadian International Pharmacy Association (CIPA)

The Canadian International Pharmacy Association (CIPA) is the national organization involved in accrediting international and Canadian online pharmacies. CIPA accredited pharmacies are among those that achieve the highest ratings online. CIPA was founded in 2002 in order to credit and monitor international online pharmacies so that patients could better rest assured that the medication they received was correct and properly dispensed. They are widely regarded and respected for their commitment to safety and their successful track record.

CIPA is fiercely dedicated to safety, and as such, has strict standards for certifying and licensing online pharmacies with their stamp of approval. In fact, there are only about 70 online pharmacies who earned the right to bear their seal, and NorthWestPharmacy.com is proud to be one of them.

While CIPA-certified online pharmacies can also serve Canadian customers, they have served millions of American customers over the course of their existence. CIPA pharmacies sell prescription drugs (most typically in 90-day supplies), however, do not sell controlled substances, such as narcotics, opioids, and other drugs proven to be highly addictive.

CIPA prides itself on its perfect safety record, meaning that their pharmacies have never injured a single patient with a prescription drug dispensing error. In order to achieve this goal — and to continue to do so — they follow protocols similar to the systems established in American mail-order pharmacies (like Express Scripts or CVS Caremark).

According to their website, "CIPA pharmacies follow the same prescription process as U.S. mail-order companies, requiring a valid and signed prescription from the patient's doctor or health care provider. And we provide the same quality controls and convenience as U.S. mail-order services, allowing consumers to maintain their health with name-brand pharmaceuticals delivered right to their home. This makes CIPA an immediate and credible part of the solution to exorbitantly high drug prices in the U.S."

In other words, filling a prescription through a CIPA-certified international pharmacy can be considered similar to filling it through Express Scripts — except that it's a fraction of the price. CIPA boasts that cost difference is about 80% on average when comparing the exact same medication purchased in the U.S. versus a CIPA pharmacy.

CIPA has a full list of online pharmacies they've certified on their website, but if you have a question about a specific website, you can use their verification tool. They also have some information on how to properly identify a CIPA-certified online pharmacy, giving specific things to look for.

  1. Online pharmacies that are verified by CIPA will display the red seal, and you can double check this against the list on their website at any time.
  2. If there is a certificate signed by Steven D. Levitt or Jared Caughey on the website in question, it's fraudulent. Do not trust the site.

And of course, if you believe you've encountered a fraudulent online pharmacy, or you believe the pharmacy is trying to claim to be CIPA-certified, but the seal looks incorrect, they encourage you to report them to CIPA. They keep a list here so you can check if a website has already been reported.

International Pharmacy Association of British Columbia (IPABC)

The International Pharmacy Association of British Columbia (IPABC) is another organization that certifies online pharmacies and many of these attain the highest ratings online. Created in 2003, they specifically "represent the interests of licensed international mail order pharmacies that dispense Health Canada-approved medications from Canada via valid prescriptions."

IPABC-certified pharmacies follow the same protocols for safety and security as CIPA — and in fact, all of their pharmacies must be CIPA-certified as well.

In order to have a prescription filled through an IPABC-certified pharmacy, multiple items must be verified:

  • The patient must have a valid prescription written by a doctor (either in the U.S. or in Canada)
  • The patient must be able to confirm their demographic and medical information
  • A licensed pharmacist on staff must supervise dispensing of medications and be available for patient consultation
  • All staff members must be properly trained in written procedures to ensure patient privacy and confidentiality.

Like CIPA, the IPABC boasts a perfect safety record with their certified pharmacies and websites. They also provide prescriptions that are not controlled substances, typically in 90-day supplies.

However, the main difference between the CIPA and the IPABC is that the IPABC is primarily focused on pharmacies (both online and brick-and-mortar) operating in the province of British Columbia.

For a full list of IPABC-certified pharmacy websites (which, proudly includes NorthWestPharmacy.com), you can click here.

Board meeting

National Association of Boards of Pharmacy (NABP)

The National Association of Boards of Pharmacy (NABP) is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization that purports to try to ensure the safety of pharmaceutical sales.

Similar to CIPA accreditation, the NABP has a program called Verified Internet Pharmacy Practice Sites (VIPPS) that includes pharmacies that meet certain criteria. If they meet set standards, they receive a special seal to put on their website. In this case the pharmacy seeking approval:

  • Must be located in the U.S.A.
  • Must have a physical address (again, in the U.S.A.)
  • Must only dispense FDA-approved medication
  • Must require a valid prescription signed by a doctor
  • Must purchase a [dot]pharmacy domain name prior to applying for a VIPPS certification.

The NABP claims that the overwhelming majority of online pharmacies they've reviewed don't comply with U.S. pharmacy laws and safety standards. But the NABP has been criticized for its ardent opposition to any kind of lower cost drug importation that could harm the profits of the chain drugstores that support the NABP. It opposes every website which assists consumers to import their medicines at a cost savings and places them on a blacklist called their "not recommended list".

As such, they're frequently critical of international and Canadian pharmacies — even to the point of recommending that Americans never purchase medication from online pharmacies outside the USA. They specifically recommend cvs.com, target.com, and walmart.com from whom they receive financial backing.

Alliance for Safe Online Pharmacies (ASOP)

The Alliance for Safe Online Pharmacies (ASOP) is a 501(c)4 nonprofit that says it is dedicated to protecting consumers from unsafe medication from illegal online retailers. It essentially promotes the NABP and all its recommendations for choosing a safe online pharmacy, including using only ones that use a [dot]pharmacy domain name — or that have brick-and-mortar locations in the United States. That's not surprising since ASOP is funded by large drug companies and U.S. chain drugstores that oppose the importation of lower cost prescription drugs.

An important distinction between NABP and ASOP is the number at the end of their nonprofit designation. 501(c)3 organizations must remain politically impartial, whereas 501(c)4 organizations are typically created to lobby for a particular interest. In this case, the special interest is that of Big Pharma's – maintaining the high prices of prescription drugs in the USA.

Of course, ASOP would say that safety is their primary concern, which is a legitimate concern in the digital age.

While it's obviously important to make sure pharmacies are being safe and accurate, it isn't true that international pharmacies can't (or won't) provide customers with the same medication as an American pharmacy. There are certainly ways to check the legitimacy of an online pharmacy — and as a consumer, you should look into this — but there's no reason to believe a certified Canadian pharmacy or international one won't give you the correct medication. Independent research confirms this.

Security

Security Rating Organizations

Trust Guard

Trust Guard is an organization that helps consumers determine how trustworthy and legitimate a website is so they can decide whether or not to shop there. By performing identification checks, Trust Guard makes sure a business has a confirmed mailing address, a customer service email address, and a working phone number.

Assuming a business can confirm all three methods of communication are active and there are no other red flags, Trust Guard provides a seal the business can place on their website to indicate to customers that they are a safe place to buy from, regardless of industry. We're happy to say that NorthWestPharmacy.com is one of a small number of international and Canadian pharmacies who've earned this seal. Services like Trust Guard help provide peace of mind for consumers shopping online.

Norton Shopping Guarantee

The Norton Shopping Guarantee is provided for free to customers (such as ours) who choose to take advantage of it. There are three different levels offering varying degrees of protection:

  • $100 Lowest Price Guarantee - If the price of your item decreases within 30 days of your purchase, Norton will pay you the difference up to $100.
  • $1,000 Purchase Guarantee - If you're unsatisfied with your purchase, Norton will work with the business in question to resolve the issue. If they find the business was at fault, they'll refund your purchase up to $1,000.
  • $10,000 Identity Theft Protection - If your identity is stolen, Norton can help you find necessary services to restore your identity, and will provide up to $10,000 to help pay for expenses incurred during the process.

The Norton Shopping Guarantee is a good way to assure customers that their purchase is being fulfilled by a legitimate business that will stand behind its transactions with a guarantee from one of the biggest names in internet security. From a business standpoint, it's a great way to prove to our customers that we care about their satisfaction and security.

Customer Rating Organizations

Shopper Approved

Shopper Approved is a third-party rating website to help consumers make informed decisions about a business or a particular product. For example, NorthWestPharmacy.com has over 375,000 reviews written through Shopper Approved by people in the U.S. and Canada who have ordered prescription drugs through our website. We're very proud of the fact that our reviews are overwhelmingly positive — the vast majority of our reviews are a full five stars. We are the most independently five-star rated online pharmacy in the world and have more reviews than any pharmacy accredited through the NABP VIPPS program.

Trust Pilot

Trust Pilot is another third-party website that focuses on rating companies, rather than products and companies. You can read reviews by verified buyers who give ratings between one and five stars — five being "Excellent." Again, we're proud to report that we have an Excellent rating through this website with over 6,500 reviews. We are rated higher on Trust Pilot than every NABP VIPPS program accredited U.S. pharmacy.

Finding a Trustworthy Canadian Online Pharmacy

It's easy to get overwhelmed when you're trying to find a reliable and safe online pharmacy where you can buy more affordable medication. The conflicting information available online can make this seem like an arduous process.

It's important to look at all of the professional ratings organizations and security status, as well how previous customers have enjoyed their experiences. Knowing that a professional pharmacy organization has certified the website, that they have a safe track record, and that previous customers have received the correct medication along with great service can put your mind at ease.

At NorthWestPharmacy.com, we're very proud of our perfect safety record and our positive customer satisfaction ratings. It's our goal to deliver the high-quality medication your doctor prescribed at a fraction of the cost you'd incur at an American pharmacy. As you can read in the reviews, we're a trustworthy, safe, and affordable alternative that will help you get the health care you need.

If you have any questions or concerns, feel free to get in touch with us. We'd be happy to talk you through the process.

Related Articles