Seventy-Four Percent of So-Called ‘Canadian’ Online Pharmacies Source Drugs From Outside of Canada, NABP Study Shows

September 1, 2017

To substantiate concerns regarding the importation of prescription medicine from Canadian online pharmacies, NABP reviewed more than 100 websites with “Canada” or “Canadian” in the name or URL, or posting a physical address in Canada, and selling medicine to patients in the United States. Nearly three-quarters of the 108 so-called Canadian online pharmacies that NABP reviewed state on their websites that they source the medications they sell from outside of Canada. These findings are presented in NABP’s Internet Drug Outlet Identification Program Progress Report for State and Federal Regulators: August 2017. Half of the so-called Canadian websites NABP reviewed source the medications they sell from India, or from a combination of various countries including India, Hong Kong, and Singapore, where the chance of receiving substandard or counterfeit medicine is considerable. Twenty percent source the medications they sell from unspecified foreign locations, and 26% do not say where they get the drugs they sell. Only 14% post a physical address for the pharmacy, none require a valid prescription, and 27% dispense controlled substances.

The report is released amidst discussions on proposed legislation that would allow 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. “In short, the drugs U.S. residents get from a site that claims to be a Canadian online pharmacy are not Health Canada-approved and are not the same quality drugs that a Canadian resident would receive either from the same Canadian online or brick and mortar pharmacy,” states the Alliance for Safe Online Pharmacies (ASOP Global).

NABP grants use of the .pharmacy domain only to legitimate website operators that adhere to pharmacy laws in the jurisdictions in which they are based and in which their patients and customers reside. As such, pharmacies licensed in Canada and dispensing medicine only to patients residing in Canada are eligible for a .pharmacy domain name, provided they meet all other program standards.