So-Called “Canadian” Pharmacies are a Danger to Consumers, NABP Reports

August 21, 2017

Topics: Internet Pharmacies, NABP Program

The National Association of Boards of Pharmacy® (NABP®) released the Internet Drug Outlet Identification Program Progress Report for State and Federal Regulators: August 2017. The report discusses how rogue online pharmacies exploit the American perception that Canadian pharmacies provide safe medication at a lower cost.

In a recent study, NABP reviewed more than 100 pharmacy websites that used “Canada” or “Canadian” in their name or URL, or posted a Canadian contact address, and found that 74% source drugs from countries outside of Canada. None of the 108 websites included in the study require a valid prescription, which can pose a serious health risk for patients.

Half of the so-called “Canadian” websites source drugs from India or a combination of countries where counterfeit products are known to originate. Another 20% dispense drugs from unspecified foreign locations.

Sourcing medications from countries without stringent regulation and oversight exposes patients to medications that are not approved by Food and Drug Administration or Health Canada. The risk that these imported drugs are counterfeit, contaminated, or subpotent is high; and quality assurance is a major concern.

The report is released amidst discussions on proposed legislation that would allow United States (US) consumers to legally import prescription medications from Canadian pharmacy sites. Without a tightly regulated international supply chain in place, it will be difficult to shield consumers from the risks associated with this type of policy.

Canada would continue to be an intermediate shipment point for unapproved medications. Neither Canada nor the US are in a position to set up the appropriate inspection programs, as stated in the report.

In 2016, NABP partnered with Canada’s National Association of Pharmacy Regulatory Authorities to verify online pharmacies located or doing business in Canada. The agreement was formed as part of the .Pharmacy Verified Websites Program, which exists to help consumers identify safe and lawful internet pharmacies.

The “Canadian” websites in this study are among the nearly 11,700 websites selling prescription medicines that NABP has reviewed in the last nine years. Of those websites, 96% were found to be operating illegally. A list of safe online pharmacies can be found on the Buying Safely page of www.safe.pharmacy.

Read the full report and learn more about Canadian internet drug outlets and their impact on the US consumer by visiting the Program and Committee Reports page in the Publications and Reports section of www.nabp.pharmacy.

NABP is the independent, international, and impartial Association that assists its state member boards and jurisdictions for the purpose of protecting the public health.