# Monday, March 19, 2007

Ordering Prescriptions Online

How Saving A Few Dollars May Affect Your Health

Online pharmacies have become a popular way for Canadians to purchase their prescriptions. They offer fast, cheap delivery, and sometimes do not require a prescription from your health care provider, and instead offer a consultation with their own "specialist". While there are legitimate websites that offer prescription medications, some are not licensed for Canada, which means they do not follow our strict federal guidelines for approved usage. Canada has strict FDA guidelines to ensure that prescription drugs available for purchase here are of high quality and are safe and effective to use.

Websites that offer prescriptions from companies that do not originate in Canada may offer prescription drugs that are not approved for sale here. These shipments run the risk of being seized at the Canadian border, leaving the consumer to pay for a purchase they will not receive. It is important to remember that if you choose to buy your prescriptions online that you choose a Canadian based company that is licensed to sell pharmaceuticals and that meets the regulatory requirements in your province. All therapeutic drugs that are approved for sale in Canada have an eight digit Drug Identification Number (DIN). A DIN means that the drug has been assessed by Health Canada, and is considered safe and effective when used in the prescribed manner.

Ordering prescription drugs from a company that doesn't require a written prescription from your own doctor poses certain health risks. You cannot be properly diagnosed simply by filling out a questionnaire online. Therefore, you may be prescribed a drug that is ineffective and/or potentially harmful. The only way to ensure that you are being properly diagnosed and treated is to consult with your physician, who is aware of your medical history and health issues. Under no circumstances is it recommended to use prescription drugs without the consent of your doctor. Consumers should be aware of any website offering a "miracle cure" for such problems as weight loss, baldness, or sexual enhancement. Many of these "miracle cures" offer no legitimate treatment, and may be potentially harmful. Even if these treatments do not require a prescription, they may interact with your current medications, or have unhealthy side effects.

So why are some prescriptions more expensive in Canada than other countries? The price of a prescription may depend on whether a generic version of the drug is available for sale. As with most consumer products, generic brands can be substantially cheaper to purchase than name brand products. The availability of generic brand prescriptions depends on the licensing agreements that the pharmaceutical companies have with the country in which they are selling their product. Currently in Canada the exclusive selling rights for brand-name prescription drugs has been increased from 5 years to 8 years. Therefore, your prescription may be available in the generic version somewhere else before it is available here.

Canadians who do not have employee benefits may want to consider purchasing health insurance coverage that covers prescription drug costs. HealthQuotes.ca offers a wide variety of health insurance plans that include prescription benefits. FlexCare offers either a Core Plan or you can choose one or more Stand-Along packages. Core Plans can be upgraded with Stand-Alones as your needs change. Blue Choice has 80% reimbursement for all eligible prescription medications, with no annual or lifetime maximums.

If you have health conditions then consider guaranteed issue health insurance, which is not medically underwritten (e.g. does not have health questions or exam). FollowMe from Manulife Financial is a guaranteed issue conversion plan that is especially ideal for people who have recently lost their employee benefits coverage.

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