From rogue pharmacies to the distribution of counterfeit drugs, the healthcare industry in the USA has faced numerous challenges in recent times. The fact that the cost of meds has also escalated to unreachable levels does not help matters. With a broken insurance system, high unemployment rates and lack of enough financial support from the federal government, the cost of healthcare has seemingly become unaffordable for most Americans.
Interestingly, the USA is home to some of the biggest pharmaceutical companies in the world. Without mentioning any brands, most reputable drug manufacturers are headquartered in the USA. That notwithstanding, the prices of drugs remain considerably high for most American homes. To remain in business, the majority of brick-and-mortar stores have had to play ball and offer meds at these exorbitant prices.
Nevertheless, not all hope is lost. Since the emergence of mail order pharmacies, online customers have now found relief as far as drug prices are concerned. Apparently, online pharmacies are cheaper and more convenient. In addition, you can order medications from anywhere and have them delivered at your doorstep in a matter of days or weeks.
Moreover, Americans have found it much easier to order for medications from Canadian online pharmacies due to the close proximity. Moreover, prescription meds from Canadian drugstores cost less. Furthermore, some pharmacies based in Canada usually offer free shipping to American destinations.
Notably, online pharmacies are not as strict as local pharmacies when it comes to prescription requirements. For instance, some drugs that require a prescription at your local store might not need one when buying from an online pharmacy.
In addition, it is much easier buying specific meds such as sexual health drugs and weight loss supplements from an online drugstore rather than your local pharmacy. Some people tend to be shy to the extent that they cannot buy certain drugs from their local stores. This is where online pharmacies become a better option considering the fact that transactions are discreet and private, and the pharmacist in charge of dispensing the drugs will never know about the customer.
The Origin of Online Pharmacies
The history of online pharmacies goes all the way back to the inception of internet technology. However, it was not until the late 1990s that the first online drugstores came to the fore in line with the emergence of digital marketplaces. At last, consumers now had an easy and more convenient way of buying meds from the comfort of their homes or offices.
However, the pricing of drugs offered American online pharmacies has always been an issue. Apparently, the tight drug regulations in the country have made it impossible for American drugstores to offer competitive prices. This has had a negative impact on the American healthcare industry as customers turn to online pharmacies located in other countries, particularly Canada, in search of safer, cheaper meds.
Seemingly, Canada has emerged as a leading source of affordable medications. The fact that the country has an efficient national and universal healthcare system makes it possible for the government to control or negotiate drug prices with stakeholders, subsequently keeping the cost of medications very low.
Furthermore, some of these pharmacies are able to ship medications to any country so long as the order is accompanied by a valid prescription, which has been countersigned by a Canadian doctor.
Nevertheless, the supply of drugs from Canadian drugstores to clients in the USA and other countries has turned out to be a bone of contention in recent times, as the NABP tries to curb on the high number of rogue online pharmacies that have infiltrated the healthcare industry, masquerading as Canadian drugstores.
Regulations for Canadian Pharmacies
The healthcare industry in Canada is well regulated with the Health Products and Foods Branch (HPFB) of Health Canada bestowed with the responsibility of monitoring the distribution and sale of prescription and non-prescription drugs in the country. The HPFB is also responsible for inspecting pharmaceutical companies in Canada, performing drug reviews, post-market surveillance, reviewing clinical trials and administering drug recalls.
At the federal level, the Therapeutic Products Directorate (an agency of Health Canada) regulates the sale and distribution of meds. Like in the United States where the states regulate drugstores, the provinces regulate all pharmacies in Canada, including online drugstores.
Apart from Health Canada through the Health Products and Foods Branch, Canada has several other regulatory agencies tasked with the responsibility of verifying if online pharmacies based in the country comply with drug regulations. Some of these agencies include the Canadian Pharmacists Association (CPA), and the Canadian International Pharmacy Association (CIPA).
Regulations for Canadian drugstores vary from province to province. Nevertheless, all regulations require that the pharmacy must be licensed and approved by the provincial pharmacy authority.
The presence and management of a certified pharmacist and/or a licensed doctor is another compulsory requirement. The pharmacy is also required to strictly enforce safe dispensing practices in compliance with federal drug laws. The drugstore must abide by stringent standards and safe storage requirements to ensure that the drugs awaiting distribution are safe for use.
The essence of undertaking these measures is to ensure that online pharmacies based in Canada dispense high-quality medications that are safe for human and animal use. In any case, the public relies on Health Canada to approve meds that have demonstrated safety, efficacy and quality.
Risks of Counterfeits
Acquiring drugs online comes with numerous risks. The fact that rogue pharmacies have increased ten-fold in the past decade does not help matters. Notably, these pharmacies have been accused of supplying counterfeit drugs in the market.
Canada is known to have stringent rules when it comes to the supply of drugs. For this reason, the chances of acquiring counterfeit drugs from your local store are very low. However, this is not the same with Canadian Online drugstores. Scammers masquerading as Canadian pharmacies have infiltrated the industry. Furthermore, it has become increasingly difficult to nab these fraudulent pharmacies. This means that customers are more likely to buy counterfeit pills online than from their local drugstores.
Instead of sourcing meds from Canadian pharmaceuticals, these rogue drugstores source their meds from countries such as India, Pakistan, China, Turkey and Singapore, which are renowned for medication counterfeiting and cross-border smuggling due to lenient drug regulations.
Counterfeits can be dangerous to your health, and in some cases, the results of consuming these drugs might be fatal. Typically, these substandard meds can contain no active ingredients, excess active ingredients, or too little correct ingredients. To make it worse, they may contain ingredients that are way past their expiry dates. Consuming these harmful meds put you at high risk of poisoning.
In a bid to counter the distribution of counterfeit drugs in Canada, Health Canada has stepped up efforts to stop the production of counterfeits in Canada and importation of meds from foreign countries. In essence, Canadian drugstores are required to source for medications from approved pharmaceuticals within Canada.
Health Canada alongside the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and the Canadian Border Services Agency are fighting counterfeits through:
- Taking action based on consumer complaints
- Stiffening criminal penalties in relation to the production and importation of counterfeits
- Regulating pharmaceutical shipment
- Creating international treaties to curb the manufacturing and exportation of counterfeits
- Compliance verification at border points
- Continuous lab analyses of new drugs in the market and imported meds
Typical Features of Rogue Pharmacies
Ever since the inception of the first online pharmacy in the USA, the industry has witnessed an upsurge in the number of drugstores selling meds online. Reliable reports from regulatory agencies such as the NABP indicate that the number of active pharmacies worldwide stands at over 40,000. However, out of these, only 15% operate legally.
With such alarming statistics, it is advisable that you carry out a comprehensive background check on any online pharmacy before placing your order.
A pharmacy may be considered rogue due to the following reasons:
- Lacks of certificates and legal approvals
For a pharmacy to be considered legitimate, it must have legal approvals and certifications from regulatory authorities. Most rogue pharmacies masquerading as Canadian drugstores publish fake seals from the CPA and CIPA in a bid to lure unsuspecting customers. Fortunately, CIPA runs an online verification service that you may use to confirm the membership status of any suspicious online drugstore.
- Fake testimonials
Rogue pharmacies are notorious when it comes to publishing fake testimonials and customer reviews. Most of these testimonials do not have a date of posting and they are normally written in poor English with lots of grammatical errors.
- Does not have a valid mailing address
Most rogue drugstores do not publish verifiable contact information. In fact, the published phone numbers and mailing address are not operational most of the time. Seemingly, they are not willing to divulge information about their exact locations. Moreover, some drugstores go to the extent of using anonymous services to hide their company details.
- Does not require a prescription
You require a valid prescription from a certified doctor when purchasing prescription (RX) drugs. However, this is not the case with rogue drugstores. These illegal pharmacies do not ask for a prescription, meaning that you may acquire RX drugs without any restrictions.
- Very low prices of drugs
If the price is too good to be true, then you’d better think twice. Rogue pharmacies offer meds at prices 70 to 90 percent lower than your local drugstore. These low prices raise questions about the source and quality of these drugs. Even though we all want to save on our healthcare expenses, a cut in price for counterfeit meds is not worth the risk to your health.
- Have dozens of mirror websites
The presence of mirror websites is another warning sign that you should consider. Typically, rogue drugstores are normally administered by a syndicate of scammers running illegal affiliate networks. These networks are often comprised of hundreds of suspicious websites that are related. Notably, these mirror websites share striking similarities such as same web design & layout, similar images, text and testimonials.
- Deals exclusively in non-regulated meds
If you come across an online pharmacy that deals exclusively in non-regulated meds, then you’d better run for your life. Rogue drugstores normally sell non-regulated meds such as sexual health drugs. Furthermore, these meds are usually generic drugs sourced from Asian countries such as India, Pakistan and China.
- Do not respond to customer queries
Not responding to customer queries is a common trend among rogue pharmacies. This normally happens after you have already placed your order but your meds are yet to arrive. On the flipside, you should also be wary if you receive a lot of spam emails offering cheap meds.
|Real Pharmacies||Fake Pharmacies|
|They sell only regulated medication||Yes||No|
|Do they have a license?||Yes||No|
|They required a valid prescription||yes||No|
|They provide verifiable contact information||Yes||No|
|Do they protect your privacy?||Yes||No|
|Does nor they send you spam?||Yes||No|
|Are they owned by or do they work with a Canadian Pharmacy?||yes||No|
Quality of Real Canadian Medications
The pharmaceutical industry in Canada is widely renowned for producing high-quality medications, including generic and brand-name drugs. Unfortunately, the emergence of fake online pharmacies has put a huge dent on the reputation of Canadian drugstores. In essence, it is now much harder to distinguish between the quality of real Canadian medications and counterfeit drugs. However, by carrying out a thorough scrutiny of the meds you seek to buy, you can easily discern real meds from counterfeits.
A genuine Canadian pharmacy should offer the following:
- Regulated meds approved by Health Canada and other regulatory agencies
- Approved meds have a clear label indicating all the active ingredients
- Meds have been sourced from licensed Canadian pharmaceuticals and other approved foreign pharmaceuticals
- Prescription meds can only be dispensed with a valid prescription document
Why do people opt for generic drugs?
The answer is simple. Brand-name drugs are somehow expensive considering the fact that the patent owners have probably spent hundreds of millions of dollars to carry out research and establish the most effective ingredients.
Furthermore, pharmaceuticals companies spend a lot of money to market these drugs. Putting these factors into consideration, the overall cost of these drugs might be too high for consumers. These high prices have forced consumers to turn to generic drugs.
Generic drugs do not require patent licenses and they do not incur the same manufacturing costs as brand-name drugs, hence they are far much cheaper. Interestingly, these drugs use the same active ingredients just as brand-name drugs. Furthermore, they work exactly the same way, providing the same effects and clinical benefits. The only differences between generic drugs and brand-name meds revolve around their shape, color, packaging and labeling.
Canadian online pharmacies remain the best source for high-quality medications at affordable rates. However, scammers have infiltrated the industry and it is becoming increasingly difficult to find genuine Canadian drugstores.
Fortunately, with verification programs run by agencies such as CIPA, Pharmacy Checker and LegitScript, you can now establish whether you are dealing with a genuine pharmacy or a rogue drugstore. Customers are also advised to take extra precautions when buying drugs from online pharmacies to avoid falling victim to scammers masquerading as Canadian pharmacies.