My Drug Center

The U.S. Consumer Guide to Canadian Pharmacies

Friday 30 June 2023
Canadian Pharmacy
6 minute(s) read

Table of Contents

I. Why Order Medication from a Canadian Pharmacy?

II. Is It Legal to Import Prescriptions from Canada?

III. Is It Safe to Order Prescriptions from Canada?

IV. Putting it All Together

The skyrocketing cost of prescription drugs in the United States has left many Americans seeking more affordable alternatives, and an increasingly popular solution is to import them from Canadian pharmacies.

Canadian pharmacies offer practically the same FDA-approved prescription drugs at a fraction of the cost, and the allure of these substantial cost savings is undeniable for U.S. citizens—especially those dealing with chronic conditions and taking long-term medications.

U.S. citizens considering this option for the first time typically want to know things like:

  • Is it legal to import prescription medications from Canada?
  • Aside from price, what are the benefits of ordering from Canadian pharmacies?
  • How can I ensure the safety of medications I order?
  • What regulatory and compliance requirements do I need to know about?

These are critical questions to answer before you order, and in this guide, we’ll cover them all. Read on for the must-know essentials on ordering prescription drugs from Canadian pharmacies, plus how to do it with confidence in your safety and overall experience.

Quick Takeaways


  • Prescription drug prices in the U.S. are 118% higher, on average, than in Canada.
  • Canadian pharmacies offer cost savings as well as benefits like easy ordering options and quick international shipping.
  • American citizens can legally import prescription drugs from Canada if they are approved for use in the U.S. and compliant with current legal guidelines.
  • Rogue pharmacies are online pharmacies that sell illegal and/or dangerous drugs.
  • Canadian regulatory bodies like Health Canada and the Canadian International Pharmacy Association (CIPA) can help you find reputable Canadian pharmacies.

Why Order Medication from a Canadian Pharmacy?

Price is the number one reason Americans purchase their prescriptions from Canadian pharmacies. Recent Statista research [1] reports that U.S. drug prices are significantly higher than those of its international counterparts, and 118% higher than Canada specifically.


Bar chart showing how U.S. drug prices compare to international counterparts.


It’s not surprising, then, that the Campaign for Personal Prescription Importation (CPPI) found that 95% of Americans [2] say high U.S. drug prices are the main driver behind their decision to import their medications. More than 75% of the survey’s respondents saved $100 or more per month by ordering from Canada. 

But price isn’t the only benefit to importing a prescription from Canada. Its close proximity to the U.S. means you can access international pricing and availability without having to suffer long wait times for shipping or other inconveniences that are common with international orders.

There’s no language barrier between the U.S. and Canada, so it’s also easy for Americans to order through their preferred channel—online, over the phone, by email, text, or by snail mail.

American citizens can legally order prescriptions from Canadian pharmacies. At the federal and state levels, policymakers are prioritizing drug price regulation in the U.S. through expanded import laws, and in July 2021, President Biden issued an executive order [3] asking the FDA to work with states specifically on importing prescription drugs from Canada.

This effort began under the Trump administration and continues to have bipartisan support among the American people—75% of Democrats and Republicans [4] (and 82% of independents) support allowing U.S. residents to purchase prescription drugs from Canadian pharmacies.

Bar chart showing results of KFF research, which found that clear bipartisan support exists for allowing Americans to buy prescription drugs imported from Canada.


All that said, there are certain rules and regulations that must be followed when ordering drugs from Canada. For one, orders must be made for Health Canada-approved medications that have also been approved for use in the U.S. 

Drugs without these approvals cannot be marketed in the U.S., except in some rare situations approved on a case-by-case basis, for example, buying medication to treat a serious condition for which no FDA-approved equivalent is available.

In addition, orders can only be for a maximum 90-day supply and for personal use. 

Finally, it’s important to track changing laws and regulations. In recent years there has been legal activity surrounding looser import laws. Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) and other parties filed a lawsuit [5] after the Trump administration passed a final rule in 2020 creating new pathways for drug importation from Canada, citing safety concerns. 

The Biden Administration later dismissed the lawsuit as overly speculative, but there will likely be continued debate and regulation changes around drug imports that must be monitored when ordering prescriptions from Canadian pharmacies.

Is It Safe to Order Prescriptions from Canada?

In short: Yes. It’s absolutely safe to order prescriptions from Canada. But it’s also critical to do your due diligence when ordering from any online pharmacy. Consumers purchasing prescription drugs online are at greater risk of encountering rogue pharmacies, or those selling illegal and potentially dangerous drugs.

Start by using the free resources available through the FDA [6] (which includes an open list of identified rogue pharmacies) and Health Canada [7]. Know what to look for in an online pharmacy to ensure it’s credible and legal. These indicators include:

  • Requiring a doctor’s prescription for all drug purchases
  • A prominently shared address and phone number
  • Licensed to operate in its state, province, or territory
  • Licensed pharmacists available to answer patient questions

When you’re looking for a Canadian Pharmacy specifically, look for membership in the Canadian International Pharmacy Association (CIPA) [8], an association of licensed retail pharmacies with an impressive 100% perfect safety record in its 20+ years of operations, thanks to its strict standards for both safety and privacy.

For reference, check for the CIPA logo (as shown below) on Canadian pharmacy websites:

Logo for the Canadian International Pharmacy Association (CIPA), which has a 100% perfect safety record in 20+ years of operations.


Finally, look for further safety certification from province- or territory-specific associations such as the International Pharmacy Association of British Columbia (IPABC) [9] or the College of Pharmacists of British Columbia [10].

Putting it All Together

Ordering medication from Canadian pharmacies presents a viable solution to the skyrocketing prescription drug prices in the United States. The substantial cost savings alone have motivated a significant number of Americans to explore this option.

However, the benefits extend beyond price, with easy ordering options, quick international shipping, and no language barriers. Importing prescriptions from Canada is legal, supported by bipartisan policymakers and constituents, and regulated by FDA requirements.

If you’re looking for a safe, reliable, certified Canadian pharmacy to fill your prescription, My Drug Center is here for you. We help thousands of Americans save on their prescriptions every year, and are committed to fast delivery and unbeatable prices so you never have to stress about having the medication you need. 

Learn more about how to order and save up to 80% on your medications today.