Canadian prescriptions may not actually come from Canada

By: Meredith Taylor
By: Meredith Taylor

Lots of US citizens are looking to Canada for prescription drugs and lower prices.

Now a government study shows many of the drugs from Canada don't actually come from there.

Wallace Greenfield takes about a half dozen medications a day.

He says it would be a tough pill to swallow if he had to pay US prices: "It sure would cut down on free money, if you will."

So Wallace gets his prescriptions through Canadian pharmacies…but his pills don't always actually come from Canada.

"One came from Greece," he says.

And one antidepressant actually came from a small island in the South Pacific.

"I never heard of the place," says Greenfield.

The US government says it happens all the time...and it’s a growing concern.

Steve Niedelman of the Food and Drug Administration says, "We were beginning to see a pattern of products coming, that were purporting to be of Canadian origin, coming from various countries from throughout the world. We wanted to determine how widespread this was."

So the FDA launched an investigation, confiscating thousands of foreign drug shipments.

"85% of them were from 27 other countries,” says Niedelman. “We saw product coming through from Germany, from Australia, from China, from Iran, from Ecuador."

And more than thirty of the confiscated drugs turned out to be counterfeit.

"It is concerning. People who are expecting to receive treatment or a cure from some of the pharmaceuticals will not receive it or won't know for some time whether or not they're getting the correct prescription drug,” Niedelman says.

Jerry Flanagan of the Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights says there is always some risk when ordering drugs from foreign countries.

"If the pill looks any differently than you are normally used to seeing it, different shape, different color, take it to a pharmacist," he says.

Flanagan says he's not overly concerned about the fact that the drugs claiming to come from Canadian pharmacies actually come from other countries.

But the FDA says there is a big difference. Drugs sold here must comply with US laws and safety standards.

"They don't know whether they do or do not contain active ingredients, whether they're sub-potent, whether they're super-potent," says Niedelman.

Greenfield says he's not bothered by the fact that his prescriptions may come from all over the globe. He considers it the price he pays for getting pills at a price he can afford.

"As long as it's a factory bottle or factory container, I'm less concerned with who sent it than I'm concerned with that it's cheaper than something else down the street," he says.

The FDA says if you can't afford a drug here in the United States, contact the manufacturer

You may get a price break if you qualify.


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