US COPD Coalition

Shopping for Medications Outside the USA


The high cost of medications in the Untied States forces many patients to choose between filling their prescriptions and putting food on the table or heating their home. In order to find less expensive alternatives, people are looking outside the US for their medicines. Bernard J. Wolfson, writing in Money magazine, has advice for individuals considering shopping abroad for medications.

“If you are planning to cross the border for your medications, or get them through an online pharmacy abroad, here are two things you should know. First: It is technically illegal. Second: It is unlikely you will be prosecuted. Despite the official prohibition, FDA guidelines allow federal agents to refrain from enforcement ‘when the quantity and purpose are clearly for personal use, and the product does not present an unreasonable risk to the user.’ Personal use generally means no more than a 90-day supply. You should think twice before bringing in quantities larger than that because if authorities suspect you have commercial intentions, you could land in legal jeopardy — and lose the drugs.“

Wolfson also warns that a big risk of shopping abroad for medicine is that you may not get what you expect, and it may not be safe. ““There’s a lot of junk in the pharmaceutical world,” says Dr. Ken Croen, a primary care physician at the Scarsdale Medical Group in Westchester County, N.Y., who advises many of his patients on how to buy drugs safely in Canada. Wolfson adds that “there are plenty of rogue operators, especially in the world of online pharmacies. You will need to do a little vetting”.

For more information, and to learn how to identfiy if online pharmacies are legitimate, read Wolfson’s article in Money here.