Canadian Online Pharmacies

Internet-based pharmacies operating out of Canada have gained much business in the last few years. The ease of availability and competitive pricing have lured many customers from the United States to Canadian online pharmacies. As of 2005, of the more than 7000 pharmacies based in Canada, almost 270 were said to be operating either completely from the Internet or were using a combination of conventional and distance dispensing methods – including net-based retail.

Most of these firms operate from Western Canada and the industry employs nearly 7000 people. While the statistics may not seem overwhelming, the number of customers catered to by these online drug stores is quite significant. Of the total sales of pharmaceutical products, mail order drugs alone raked in upwards of $1 billion in sales in 2004. The online sites serve an estimated 2 million patients in the US including seniors and those without any insurance.

However, it has not been a smooth sail for the Canadian online pharmacy industry. It had to defend itself against the charges hurled from many quarters. Fears have been raised that Canadian doctors were rewriting prescriptions issued by US physicians. The Canadian Online Pharmacy industry has predictably denied all the allegations. According to them, Canadian physicians often review the prescription given by their US counterparts and do a double check on the patient’s medical background. In case of doubts, the Canadian physicians also revert back to the patient’s original physician based in the US.

The Federal Drug Administration has traced many companies selling drugs online. These were selling drugs to buyers in the US by claiming that such an act did not violate any Federal law and thus were completely legal.

According to a study, it was found that some of the Canadian online pharmacy stores were actually based in the US. These were operating illegally and were providing drugs under the guise of being Canada based online stores. Some US based pharmacies were also purchasing drugs from Canadian firms and selling them in US.

Further, the shipping and handling of these drugs have also raised safety concerns as some physicians in the US feel that temperature sensitive drugs were being imported without giving due attention to packaging detail. This could have serious implications for the safety and effectiveness of the drug being imported. Production concerns have also been raised in the US as some of these drugs may have been manufactured in bulk and a compromise on quality issues cannot be completely ruled out.

Now voices are rising in Canada itself to regulate the online pharmacy business. That country is now planning to modify the Canadian Food and Drug Act. There is a proposal to bring in an amendment that requires Canadian physicians to examine the patient physically before giving out prescriptions. This would also mean that Canadian physicians cannot rewrite prescriptions given by their US counterparts. This move has been criticized by the online pharmacy industry in Canada. The oft-quoted reason being the loss of jobs that may happen in wake of this amendment. The industry is also up in arms against being portrayed as practitioners of unethical and unprofessional business practices. Canada is also planning to crack down on pharmacies operating without the requisite Establishment License. Under Canadian laws, such a license is required for any commercial organization involved in fabrication, packaging, import, delivery, bulk sale and testing of drugs here. This law enables the government to trace the complete chain of sale of the drug from the manufacturer to the user in case of an adverse effect of a drug. It also enables faster investigation and framing of charges.

Strange as it may seem, though there is some distrust among the general US population for these pharmacy products, the number of online buyers for drugs is increasing every quarter. The industry has witnessed healthy growth rates in the past and unless Canada goes ahead and regulates it, this trend is expected to continue at least for the foreseeable future. US customers also seem to be aware of the fact that in case of adverse effects, there is no legal recourse available as it would be impossible to locate the seller of the drug. Buyers seem to be lapping up these drugs irrespective of the general feeling that there may be safety and other issues in purchasing them online.

Canadian Pharmacy Prescriptions

Canadian pharmacies are doling out prescriptions like never before. While they are serving a huge domestic market, they are also catering to customers in the US. These pharmacies operating out of Canada are filling out prescriptions for everything from common cold to controlling blood pressure.

It is understood that they can read prescriptions given out by Canadian doctors for Canadian patients but what about the patients across the border residing in the USA? In many cases, a Canadian doctor rewrites the prescription given out by his US counterpart so as to make the whole process of filing out process legal. In case of unlicensed pharmacies, no one bothers as, prescriptions are not needed just name the drug and they will ship it across to you. Negligence of some of the basic business ethics by certain firms has led to these pharmacies coming under the scanner of authorities both in the US and Canada.

In the US, fears have been raised over the risk to patients from sale of counterfeit drugs. These drugs may contain inert components, which can cause significant harm to the body of the consumer. In some cases it has been found legitimate drugs well past their expiry date were diverted to illegitimate retailers for sale across the internet. Cases of improperly manufactured drugs have also come to light.

According to the Canadian Medical Association, physicians should necessarily conduct a physical exam and discuss the merits and risks associated with consumption of a particular drug before it is prescribed. However, in case of many Canadian pharmacies this was not found to be the case. This was also facilitated by desperate patients in the United States who were willing to buy anything offered cheap for various ailments without being bothered about its side effects.

Some Canadian pharmacies have however, implemented many measures to gain trust of the customer based in US. Most notable among them is arranging for a visit by a Canada based physician to the patient in US for examining him before filling out a prescription. All this is happening while the business for Canadian firms is growing by leaps and bounds. Canadian firms are now filling out prescriptions like never before. Some firms have claimed to have filled as much as 3000 prescriptions a day indicating the volume of business catered to by these pharmacies.

So irrespective of the some of the measures being planned to regulate these pharmacies, it only seems that these firms will continue witness healthy growth rates.