Pharmacies (purchasing medicine by mail)
US Citizens are reaching out to the Better Business Bureau
seeking information about ordering their prescriptions from Canada by mail,
telephone and through the internet. The following is general information:
Health Canada is the regulatory authority that verifies
the quality, safety and effectiveness of prescription drugs approved for use in
Prescribing and dispensing prescription drugs, the administration
of health care, and the governance of practitioners, including pharmacists, are
In Canada, a drug can only be sold pursuant to a
prescription written by a practitioner with a license to practice in Canada. Each
province in Canada
has its own laws governing the prescribing and sale of prescription drugs, but
overall, it is generally accepted that physicians and pharmacists should
establish a relationship with the patient before prescribing or selling drugs.
Recently some provincial bodies that regulate pharmacists and physicians have
been taking legal actions against their constituents that do not follow the
established acts, regulations and codes of conduct.
Health Canada is
concerned about the inspection and quality control of prescription drugs when
sold online. The safety and effectiveness of a drug may be in question when
ordered online, particularly if the product does not include a Drug
Identification Number (DIN). This eight digit number, preceded with the
letters, "DIN" signifies that a drug product has been reviewed by
prior to sale for safety and efficacy, and found to have an acceptable
risk/benefit profile for the conditions under which it was approved. Health Canada also
conducts post-market activities for these products including the monitoring of
adverse reactions and complaints regarding quality.
online without professional medical advice and monitoring can pose a number of
- Self-diagnosis of some diseases may
be difficult or impossible. This introduces the risk of the inappropriate
use of medications and/or inability to halt the progress of the disease;
- Inability to have a professional
trace the course of treatment and recovery can lead to inappropriate use
of drugs, the ineffective treatment of the disease state, and the lack of
monitoring of harmful side effects. This concern is heightened where drugs
have a narrow range of safety and/or efficacy;
- Drug resistance problems, for
example, when antibiotics are used inappropriately;
- Interaction of drugs with other
medicines and with food products, which could increase their toxicity or
decrease their effectiveness; and
- Drug products purchased outside the
normal distribution chain of pharmacies and of inspected and licensed
manufacturers, importers, distributors, testing laboratories and
wholesalers may not meet quality standards. Again, safety and
effectiveness may be compromised.
It should be
noted that drugs approved for use in Canada
may not be the same as those approved for use in the United States despite being
manufactured by the same company. Different formulations, different dosages,
and different approved indications may make a difference to the individual
patient. It is important that the consumer consult his or her health care
professional before taking any kind of prescription drug.
wish to check with the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) website about
buying medicines online at www.fda.gov/oc/buyonline.
is general in nature and is not to be interpreted as a report on any product,
service or company.