Are you ordering medications online from Canada, Mexico, other countries? What to know

Michelle Marchante | (TNS) Miami Herald

Finding a good deal on medication can be difficult.

Even with insurance, prescription medicines can be pricey. Bargain hunters might search for cheaper prices online, but not every Internet pharmacy is legitimate.

Sometimes, people turn to Canada, Mexico and other countries for cheaper drug prices.

Federal regulators gave Florida the OK earlier this month to order certain prescription medications in bulk from Canada to help save taxpayers millions. The medications would be provided to patients under the state’s care, such as inmates, patients who get care at county health departments, and Medicaid recipients.

However, this doesn’t mean you can buy the cheaper Canadian medicine.

While some people do order medicines from Canada, Mexico and other countries, it’s technically illegal to do so.

Here’s what to know:

Can you order medications directly from Canada, Mexico and other countries?

In most circumstances, it’s illegal for people who live in the U.S. to buy medications from other countries if the drugs are not approved by the FDA, the U.S. federal agency that oversees drug safety.

“Please note that only medications that can be legally prescribed in the United States may be imported for personal use,” according to U.S. Customs and Border Protection. “Be aware that possession of certain substances may also violate state laws. As a general rule, the FDA does not allow the importation of prescription drugs that were purchased outside the United States.”

The FDA says this is because it can’t guarantee that the drugs are safe, legitimate and effective. All medications sold in the U.S. have to meet the agency’s standards. Other countries, like Canada, also require medications to get approval by their version of the FDA before becoming available to the public. This also applies to pet medication.

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