Hints / Tips

Drug Alternatives

Several pharmaceutical companies have cut off drug supplies to Canadian pharmacies in an attempt to kill the cross-border drug trade. This endangers senior citizens on both sides of the border and may create artificial drug shortages in the future.

If you are concerned about your drug supply or would like to boycott companies that put profit over human life, ask your doctor about prescription drug alternatives. We have compiled a list of online resources for you:

Ask Your Doctor About These Possible Rx Alternatives (Source: AARP)

Pfizer Alternatives (Warning: PDF File) (Source: CIPA)

If you would like to force Pfizer to rescind its punishment of Americans in need of affordable prescription drugs, please visit the Pfix Pfizer Campaign (Dead Link) to join fellow Americans in boycotting Pfizer’s over-the-counter drugs.

Originally Posted April 14, 2004.

Tips for Buying Prescription Drugs Online

Canadian drugs are safe.  Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for all online pharmacies.  Here are some things to look for when buying prescription drugs online:

1) Physical Presence

When you first visit an online pharmacy, look for a physical address.  Make sure that the pharmacy is a “bricks and mortar” pharmacy with an actual physical presence in Canada.

2) Licence Number

All legitimate pharmacies will have a licence from the province in which they are registered.  Look for a licence number and check it with the regulatory authority in that province.  Regulatory Authorities are listed in our Useful Links section.

3) Phone number

Look for a phone number.  Phone the pharmacy and talk to a pharmacist to confirm the information on their website and to ask them how many years they have been in business.

4) Prescription

All Canadian pharmacies require a prescription from your U.S. physician.  Avoid any pharmacy that offers to sell you prescription drugs without one.

5) Patient Information

The Canadian pharmacy should ask for both demographic and medical information about you.

6) Physician Review

The Canadian pharmacy should have a Canadian physician review patient information.

7) Access to Pharmacist

You should have access to a Canadian pharmacist for medication counseling and drug information.

8) Secure Delivery

Prescription drugs should be delivered in a secure and traceable method.

9) Proper Labeling

Each prescription drug should be labeled with the following:
a) Your name
b) Name of Canadian pharmacy
c) Name of Canadian physician
d) Name of drug
e) Strength and directions for use
f) Amount of drug dispensed and remaining quantity
g) Date drug was dispensed

10) Check CanadaDrugTalk

Check our Pharmacies section. CanadaDrugTalk collects information from fellow consumers on an ongoing basis and keeps an eye on the latest news. We only list pharmacies that meet our high standards and remove any pharmacy that fails to maintain these standards. To maintain editorial integrity, we receive no compensation from the pharmacies listed and do not accept advertisements from pharmacies or drug companies. Read our About Us section to find out more.

Steps U.S Patients Can Take to Ensure Safety When Obtaining Prescription Medications from Canada (Source: Canadian International Pharmacy Association)

Originally Posted March 27, 2004.

Proper Disposal of Unwanted Medications

At least once every twelve months, go through your medicine cabinet and remove prescription drugs that are expired or that you no longer take. Remove outdated non-prescription drugs as well. If you are unsure, check with your pharmacist.

Proper Disposal of Unwanted Medications

1) Do not put unwanted medications in the garbage, toilet or sink – this may have a harmful effect on the environment.

2) Check to see if your pharmacist has a drug recycling program that disposes of unwanted medications in an environmentally safe manner.

3) If your pharmacy does not have such a program, check to see if your municipality incinerates drugs. If so, take your unwanted medication to your municipality’s waste disposal depot.

(Source: Health CanadaProper Use and Disposal of Medication)

Originally Posted March 19, 2004.

Tips to Lower Prescription Costs

In addition to buying from a licensed Canadian pharmacy, there are other ways to save money on prescription drugs.


Major drug companies give doctors millions of drug samples as part of their promotional efforts. Some doctors will give you ongoing free samples if you ask. (Note: These controversial promotional efforts lead to higher drug prices in the United States. For more information, read Why are Canadian Drug Prices Lower?)

Generic Drugs

Whenever possible, ask your doctor to prescribe generic drugs. Also, ask your doctor if an older drug on the market might be as good as one of the new drugs – the older drug will be a lot cheaper.

Buying Bulk

If you are purchasing generic drugs locally, consider buying prescriptions in bulk. Talk to your pharmacist about how much you would save by purchasing a three-month, six-month, nine-month or twelve-month supply of the drug. (Note: You don’t want to buy newly prescribed drugs in bulk – the prescription may change.)

Splitting a Stronger Strength

Consider cutting the cost of your drugs by having your doctor prescribe a stronger strength. For example: If you need to take a 20 milligram tablet, get your doctor to prescribe a 40 milligram tablet and carefully split it in half. Pill splitters can be purchased for a few dollars at your local pharmacy.

Originally Posted March 01, 2004.

Generic Drugs – Buy Locally and Shop Around

Although Canadian pharmacies can offer substantial savings on brand-name prescription drugs, the same cannot be said for generic drugs. A lot of times, it is cheaper and/or more convenient to purchase generic drugs locally. Before buying generic drugs at a Canadian pharmacy, be sure to check out independent local pharmacies and discount chains such as Costco.

When buying locally, it pays to shop around.

The New York StateWide Senior Action Council Survey of Generic Prescription Drug Prices in the Capital District found large variations in prices. They found that an independent pharmacy in Albany offered the lowest prices for generic drugs and that chain drug stores with high volume purchases do not necessarily pass the savings on to consumers. You can read their conclusions here (Dead Link) and the actual data collected in this price comparison chart (Warning: PDF) (Dead Link).

Investigative reporter Steve Wilson wrote an excellent article about prescription drug markups and also provided a price comparison chart. (Note: The two links in this sentence are now dead.)

Another article, Shop Around For Good Drug Prices (Dead Link), also found that some pharmacies make big profits on generic drug markups.

Originally Posted February 20, 2004.