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Why Aren’t More People Using Canadian Pharmacies?

July 31, 2020

online pharmacy safety

Expensive and unaffordable prescriptions have become a foregone conclusion and business as usual in the United States. Depending on the medication and a person's individual circumstances, a yearly prescription for even the most common medications can cost more than a new car (even with health insurance and prescription drug coverage in many cases).

Reputable Canadian pharmacies offer an affordable and safe alternative to going bankrupt, into debt, or living without essential medications. However, many Americans remain skeptical or even afraid to buy from Canadian pharmacies due to misunderstandings and misconceptions about how Canadian pharmacies work, and the quality and safety of the products they offer.

Here's what you need to know when weighing your options, and how to tell the difference between legitimate Canadian pharmacies and the bad actors that you should avoid.

Confusion and Misconceptions About the Differences Between American and Canadian Pharmacies

While it's true that there are some fundamental differences between Canadian pharmacies and their American counterparts, there are also many misunderstandings about the quality and safety of Canadian pharmacies.

More than anything, the most basic and fundamental differences between the two countries comes down to how (and how much) Canadians and Americans ultimately end up paying for the same medications. Canadian citizens from all backgrounds and walks of life don't have to live in fear of getting sick and paying for the doctor, since most medical care is provided universally. They can also worry much less about whether they'll be able to afford even the most basic prescriptions and medications since the prices of prescription drugs is set by the government.

In Canada, medicine and healthcare aren't "market based" in the same way that they are in the United States, which leads to much greater stability and affordability in the system. The Canadian government negotiates and regulates prices directly with manufacturers to ensure that they charge fair prices.

By contrast, pharmaceutical companies in the United States are allowed to use any justification to charge American consumers exorbitant prices with no price controls or meaningful competition. With billions and billions of dollars' worth of profits at stake every year, the pharmaceutical companies and their allies in Congress have a vested interest in keeping American consumers misinformed about the safety and effectiveness of prescription drugs from Canadian pharmacies.

Misplaced Fear of Counterfeit or Unsafe Drugs

One of the biggest fears that many people have when it comes to ordering prescription medications online from a Canadian pharmacy is safety. It's a logical and understandable concern. To put it into a broader concept, consider the act of shopping for something online in a broader context.

Any time that you go to a specific website to place an order, whether it's for clothes, groceries, cosmetics, furniture, books, or in this case prescription drugs, there's an inherent risk that the seller is misrepresenting the product. Obviously, the stakes are much higher with prescription drugs because your health, wellbeing, and even life may be on the line. In any case, you have to be sure that you're shopping through a trusted, reputable company that isn't misrepresenting their products and services.

The bad news is that there are shady and disreputable companies and websites who lie and pretend to be legitimate Canadian pharmacies in order to trick consumers. This is true for any type of business that operates online. If you order from the wrong website, you many end up with a counterfeit pair of Nikes or a fake bottle of the French perfume or wine you ordered because the retailer either lied, or has a faulty and murky supply chain.

But there are organizations you can use to verify that the pharmacy you are purchasing medication from is legitimate. For one, you can look at their reviews. You can also look for official seals from organizations like CIPA (the Canadian International Pharmacy Association) that verify pharmacies are legitimate and help protect consumers. The great thing about CIPA is that they set stringent standards for websites – and any of the international pharmacies they use outside of Canada to dispense medication.

Canadian Pharmacies are Sometimes Victims of Their Own High Standards

Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery as the old saying goes, but when it comes to Canadian pharmacies, imitation can actually hurt consumers. One of the main scare tactics used to discourage Americans from buying prescription medications through an online Canadian pharmacy is that they may actually be ordering counterfeit medication through a website pretending to operate as or refer orders to a licensed Canadian pharmacy.

Why would counterfeiters pretend to be Canadian? The answer is simple. Canadian pharmacies and their CIPA certified international dispensing pharmacy partners have exceptionally high safety controls and quality standards in place, so American consumers who have done their research will know that they can trust medications they order online from a legitimate Canadian pharmacy. A real Canadian pharmacy or a CIPA certified site would never sell unsafe or low-quality medications to their Canadian and American customers, so the bad actors try to hide behind a label of Canadian quality.

Once again, however, you can avoid this by looking for certifications from professional organizations designed to protect consumers — like CIPA.

How to Make Sure You're Ordering from a Real Canadian Pharmacy and CIPA Certified International One

Before you place an online order with a Canadian pharmacy, it's important to do adequate research and to look out for red flags and signs of potential problems. According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA):

"There are many pharmacy websites that operate legally and offer convenience, privacy, and safeguards for purchasing medicines. But the U.S. Food and Drug Administration warns that there are many rogue online pharmacies that claim to sell prescription medicines at deeply discounted prices, often without requiring a valid prescription.

These Internet-based pharmacies often sell unapproved or counterfeit medicines outside the safeguards followed by licensed pharmacies. These rogue sites often prominently display a Canadian flag, but may actually be operated by criminals from the other side of the globe with no connection to Canada."

For starters, just because a website displays a Canadian flag does not mean that they're actually Canadian or certified by CIPA. Look beyond the branding of the website. For starters, look for their customer service details and policies. You should be able to reach and speak with a professional customer service representative to answer all of your questions and concerns before you place an order. They should also have real licensed pharmacists on hand to be able to provide medication counseling.

What's their policy on prescriptions?

Legitimate Canadian pharmacies will not sell medication without adequate prescriptions, so if an online pharmacy claims that you don't need one in order to buy a medication that normally requires a prescription in the U.S. and Canada, it's a sign that it's a rogue website.

The important thing to keep in mind is that real Canadian pharmacies and their CIPA certified international counterparts are safe and have very high-quality controls and standards. Before you place an order with NorthWestPharmacy.com, we'll go over the process with you and discuss your prescription to ensure that you're getting exactly what you need.

Ask about the supply chain and drug safety and authenticity practices

You have the right and responsibility to know where your medications are coming from. At NorthWestPharmacy.com, we're transparent about our drug safety and authenticity practices so that our American customers can shop with confidence and peace of mind.

Canadian and American pharmacies typically stock medications from the same manufacturers, so when you buy your prescriptions from a reputable Canadian pharmacy, you can trust that you're getting the similar quality and safety that you would at your own local pharmacy. In many cases, we believe you'll get a higher level of safety than big box pharmacies in the United States that are renowned for engaging in unsafe practices.

A good way to know if a Canadian pharmacy is certified and safe to order from online is to check with the Canadian International Pharmacy Association (CIPA). CIPA approved pharmacies and certified websites meet the safety and quality standards required for legitimate Canadian pharmacies and their international counterparts and are one of the best ways for American consumers to know that they're getting their prescriptions from a certified and approved pharmacy in Canada or abroad.

Myths About Prescription Drug Costs in the U.S. vs. Canada

Most of the concerns and hesitation over using Canadian pharmacies typically come down to concerns about safety, and skepticism about costs. For Americans used to being asked to pay outrageous prices for their prescriptions, the lower prices and cost savings available through a Canadian pharmacy can seem downright suspicious, if not too good to be true.

So how is it possible for legitimate, certified Canadian pharmacies to sell the same prescription medications as their American counterparts at a fraction of the cost? For starters, the Canadian government and citizens don't treat medicine and healthcare like consumer goods that exist only to make profits for pharmaceutical companies and drug manufacturers.

To make sure that all Canadians can access the medications they need at a fair and affordable price, the Canadian government negotiates prescription drug prices directly with pharmaceutical companies and drug manufacturers to prevent the exorbitant and out of control costs that are crippling people in the United States.

Phrases like "price controls" may have negative connotations in the U.S. due to decades of corporate propaganda, but what the Canadian and American models have shown when compared side by side is that without fair and well enforced regulations, some for-profit companies may put people's lives and wellbeing at risk in order to make as much money as possible.

Disingenuous Arguments About Research and Development Costs

Researching drugs is hard — and expensive — work. But it's not as expensive as pharmaceutical companies would have you believe. While they claim that it can cost $1-$3 billion dollars for a single drug, that's likely not entirely accurate. Studies in well-respected medical journals like JAMA have found that the pharmaceutical industry dramatically exaggerates R&D costs.

While they might say that they are spending billions on research, the median development cost for 10 cancer drugs was $648 million. While that's still a large amount of cash, it's dramatically different from industry estimations.

It's even more telling that some of the most common prescription drugs in the United States – and some of the ones with the steepest price hikes – are old drugs, that largely were developed decades ago.

Some medications that were affordable or at least reasonably priced just a few years ago, such as asthma inhalers and EpiPens to name just two, have doubled or even tripled in price in just a few years, with no significant changes or improvements on dosage or the core ingredients.

So as most Canadian citizens and others all over the world already know, prescription drugs aren't more expensive in the United States due to differences in the quality or manufacturing practices because Canada, other countries and the United States sell the same prescription drugs from the same pharmaceutical companies in most cases.

The cost differences have to do more with politics and government price regulation and oversight (or lack thereof in the case of the U.S.).

Americans may be used to paying more for healthcare and prescription medications, but a legitimate and certified Canadian international pharmacy is a reliable way to save money on safe prescriptions.

Ordering your prescriptions from a certified online Canadian pharmacy and international drugstore can save you money and eliminate the fear and worry of not being able to afford the medication you need. For more information, contact NorthWestPharmacy.com today at our toll free number 1-866-539-5330, or you can also send us an email. Our dedicated customer service team is available to answer all of your questions and concerns.

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