Tired of paying ridiculous prices for your medications? You're not the only one. Many Americans facing high prescription costs are turning to overseas pharmacy outlets to cover their medical needs at a lower cost. 

But is it safe? 

You may be wondering how to protect yourself from dodgy sellers with substandard manufacturing practices. After all, an altered medication could be worse than no medication at all.

If you're wondering how to order from an overseas pharmacy safely and what red flags to look out for, you'll want to check out these must-know tips before you put your health on the line.

pharmacist dispensing medication

Why Use Overseas Pharmacies?

Much of the debate about health care in the United States surrounds the controversy over the high price of medications. Americans spend twice as much on their medications as people in other high-income countries. Some medications cost as much as four times in the U.S. 

This leaves many people unable to treat dangerous chronic health conditions like high blood pressure. They also can't afford to improve their quality of life as they age. 

While some defenders of the pharmaceutical industry say that the high price covers the cost of research and development, but the difference in pricing just doesn't add up

So, why use an overseas online pharmacy to fill your prescriptions? The benefits can vary:

  • Substantial savings on medications
  • Availability of medications not sold in the U.S.
  • May not require a prescription in another country

If you require a medication not available in the U.S. or your insurance doesn't cover it, an overseas pharmacy may be your only choice for treatment.

Pills in hand

Why Not Use an Overseas Pharmacy?

You may be surprised to learn that the FDA regulates all drugs on the U.S. market and discourages individuals from orderings overseas prescription drugs online. 

The reasons the agency gives are two-fold:

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) may not have tested the drug for safety and efficacy and so, hasn't approved it for use. They cannot guarantee the medication's effectiveness unless it's been through their rigorous testing process.

The second reason is a bit more concerning. If the FDA has approved a drug, then it's available from an American manufacturer. It seems unfair that they protect the market for these companies when the price can be four to five times higher. 

The good news is that the FDA generally doesn't object in some cases. They offer some cases they'll overlook, and you should keep these in mind to avoid problems:

  • Drugs for serious conditions that lack effective medications in the U.S. 
  • The drug presents no unreasonable risk
  • The individual buying the medication verifies in writing that it's for personal use
  • Contact information for the prescribing doctor is made available
  • The medication being imported was prescribed overseas and treatment will continue in the U.S. 
  • No more than a three-month supply of the medication is ordered

So, as long as you're ordering a small supply for your own personal use and provide your doctor's contact information, you shouldn't have any problem receiving your medications from overseas. 

Finding the Best Overseas Pharmacy

Barring any legal qualms, you may be wondering how to purchase your regular medications from an overseas online pharmacy. Follow these safety tips:

1. Credentials

One excellent way to screen overseas online pharmacies is to consider their location. While you can find very cheap medications from developing nations, look for an online pharmacy in industrialized nations with governmental bodies that regulate their industry.

For example, the Medicines & Healthcare Product Regulatory Agency (MHRA) regulates medications in the United Kingdom, similar to the FDA in the U.S.

Similarly, Health Canada regulates drugs in Canada and is recognized as a comparable agency by the FDA in regulating food safety

So, before ordering from any overseas pharmacy, ensure it holds the same credentials in its home country as you would expect from any local pharmacy.

2. Transparency

The best overseas pharmacy will be transparent about the origin of the drugs being sold. 

Many medications approved for use by the FDA are manufactured in India or other countries to control costs. You may never know that, but you can expect that your U.S. company has a tight control on quality.

The same cannot be said for just any online pharmacy, however. An online drug store from India may claim they're selling you the same product, but how can you be sure these aren't manufacturing rejects or substandard knock-offs? 

So, make sure your overseas pharmacy clearly states the origin of manufacture to ensure your peace of mind.

3. Compliance

The FDA, MHRA, Health Canada, and other governing bodies work to ensure your safety by insisting your use of some medications is monitored by a licensed doctor. All reputable online pharmacies will require prescriptions for medications when the laws that regulate them require it. 

One sign that you're working with the best overseas pharmacies is that they will require a prescription from a licensed physician to sell you medicine.

4. Business Bona Fides

As well as providing their licensing information for dispensing, look for business credentials. For example, are they registered with professional organizations in their country? Also, do they provide a physical address and telephone number? 

Disreputable online business may not provide contact information beyond an email address or contact form. Make sure you can contact them immediately and directly for questions or assistance. 

If you can't find them on a map or reach them by phone, pass them by.

5. Verification

Last, but certainly not least, look for verification from independent rating agencies. Online consumer rating services like TrustPilot are a good way to check an online pharmacy's reputation with previous customers. 

Alternatively, you can also check out sites that served to warn buyers against disreputable pharmacies, such as PharmacyChecker.

Ready to Save on Your Medications? 

The astronomical price of essential medications has led millions of Americans to choose between buying food and staying well. It shouldn't have to be that way. 

For those looking to save on their medications, an overseas pharmacy may be the only way they can maintain their health while maintaining their quality of life.

Medix Pharmacy, based in the UK, offers MHRA-approved medications by prescription and maintains the highest professional standards for dispensing. 

We take your health very seriously and work diligently to ensure you receive the medication your doctor has prescribed at a price you can afford. Best of all, you can contact us at any time if you have questions or concerns.