Buying Prescription Drugs from Canada is Now Legal in Florida

Written by James Doulgeris, Chairman, RSDSA Advocacy Committee

It is now legal to purchase prescription medications from Canada, which are as much as forty percent less expensive than those available in the U.S., in Florida directly from your local drug store and online. They are FDA approved and safe to use, however, it will take time for the system to absorb this monumental change in distribution and regulatory approval systems.

The approval of Canadian drugs in Florida is expected to reduce prescription drug costs for residents while maintaining safety standards through FDA oversight. This could potentially serve as a model for other states seeking to address the high cost of prescription medications.

Here is how this new approval will affect Florida residents and how the system will change over time:

Cost Impact

Lower Prescription Drug Costs: The approval allows Florida to import inexpensive prescription drugs from Canada, where medication prices are typically lower than in the United States. This is expected to result in cost savings for consumers in Florida, but not for everyone and not directly.

  • Commercial Insurance – Any savings to be passed on to consumers as PBM’s (Pharmacy Benefits Managers) assess price advantages of Canadian versus U.S. sourced drugs, and these are done on a national basis. In any event, cost savings will be indirect in the form of lower co-pays or insurance premiums. This law pertains only to Florida and it will take time to sort things out. 
  • Cash Customers – It is uncertain how consumers will be able to price shop between country of origin. It will be largely up to consumers to price shop between retailers, who may or may not advertise cost savings, but likely will to bring traffic to their stores. It is unlikely price wars will erupt, though.
  • Medicare and Medicaid – These are national programs that can now negotiate with drug manufacturers, and these will be largely unaffected for now. However, there may be isolated cases where the cash price may be lower than co-pays in the “donut hole” in Medicare Part D, which pays for prescription medications. Careful shoppers should keep an eye out for organizations like AARP and Consumer Reports, which will likely track and report these savings opportunities.

Increased Competition: The availability of Canadian drugs can introduce more competition into the pharmaceutical market, potentially leading to reduced prices for a wider range of medications in Florida and potentially other states, but only for cash customers meaning those without healthcare pharmacy insurance benefits.

Safety Impact

  • FDA Approval: The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval ensures that the imported Canadian drugs meet certain safety and quality standards. Therefore, consumers can have confidence that these medications have undergone regulatory scrutiny for safety.
  • Prescription Authentication: The FDA’s involvement includes verifying the authenticity and legitimacy of the imported drugs to prevent counterfeit or unsafe medications from entering the market. This, however, will get complicated with pop-up retailers and online sellers.

Online Purchases

While the approval of Canadian drug imports in Florida allows for the importation of medications from Canada, Floridians cannot purchase Canadian drugs online without restrictions. The implementation of the program and the specifics of how these drugs can be obtained, while regulations and processes are in place, will be a moving target with unscrupulous sellers.

To purchase Canadian drugs in Florida, Florida residents should follow these steps:

  • Consult a Healthcare Provider: Before seeking to purchase medications from Canada, you must consult a healthcare provider. They can assess your medical needs, discuss treatment options, and provide prescriptions if necessary. A prescription is required to purchase prescription medications.
  • Verify Legitimate Online Pharmacies: Research and choose a legitimate online pharmacy based in Canada. Verify the pharmacy’s credentials, including its licensing and reputation by seeking a third-party validation using Google or a similar search engine.
  • Prescription Requirement: ALL legitimate online pharmacies require a valid prescription from a licensed healthcare provider to dispense medications. 
  • Beware of Scams: Exercise caution when dealing with online pharmacies. There are fraudulent websites selling counterfeit or unsafe medications. Stick to reputable sources and avoid suspicious offers. If it seems to be too good to be true, it is.

While the FDA approval allows for the importation of Canadian drugs into Florida, the process of purchasing them online should be must cautiously, following the proper legal and medical procedures. Always prioritize safety and verify the legitimacy of online pharmacies to ensure the quality and safety of the medications you purchase.

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For more information or with questions, contact Jim directly at [email protected]

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