Medicine prices in the United States have been something of a contentious thing for a long time. There’s no sense in sugarcoating this, medicine and medical care in general are extremely expensive in this country. There are a host of variables behind this, and yes, some of them are worthy of ethical debate when regarding political and business practice topics. However, it’s not our place to really discuss that, we’re not politicians, we’re not moral philosophers.
One variable that we can discuss, because it’s just an unavoidable thing, is the fact that medicines are largely manufactured elsewhere. There are literally oceans between this continent and the sources of these medications, because that’s where the infrastructure to produce them happens to lie. Whatever you have to import a good, especially one that’s being consumed by people, it becomes pretty expensive rather quickly. There’s all the overhead of shipping it, inspecting it and regulating it. You absolutely want this regulation and inspection to remain in place, so this particular factor in high prices is something that just can’t be helped.
You’ve undoubtedly seen various ads and articles with captions like “check this helpful page about drug prices in Canada”, and wondered exactly what the deal is with that. Are they really cheaper in Canada? Why are they cheaper in Canada, and is it actually legal to buy them from outside United States like this?
Are drugs cheaper in Canada?
The first question to address is, are they actually cheaper in Canada? Well, unsurprisingly, the answer to this is a little more complicated than a simple yes or no. The price point for medication is indeed cheaper in Canada. However, since Canada is faced with the same import problems faced by the United States, a lot of the hiked up price is offset by taxes. So, in the long run, Canadians aren’t really paying that much less for their medications, because they are inside that tax system.
On paper, they still are somewhat cheaper due to other factors that are too political to get into here, but not by the factor you would expect.
The thing is, though, as an American citizen, you’re not part of that tax system. So, while the price will elevate a little bit due to import fees, you are actually going to experience savings by purchasing through Canada.
Is it legal to do this? How is this actually legal?
Well, obviously, pharmaceutical companies within the United States would probably prefer that this wasn’t allowed. All ethical debate aside, any company with a vested interest in selling their products locally at a certain price would be less than enthralled with the idea of a cheaper alternative that undercuts them.
However, due to international trade agreements as well as antitrust laws, pharmaceutical companies can’t prevent this. The result is that yes, it’s actually legal to purchase medications from Canada, provided there FDA approved and aren’t some sort of controlled substance a very special interest. Even certain controlled substances can still be purchased in this manner, provided you have the proper paperwork to do so.
So, when you see a site advertising “check this helpful page about drug prices in Canada”, there is likely something to it. Obviously, that your sources and be selective of the Canadian pharmacy through which you purchase, but yes, you do stand save quite a bit this way. A little bonus tip, if you go with generic alternatives to your medication, which are literally the same exact thing, you can augment the savings by logarithmic amounts!