Canadian Pharmacy, Over-The-Counter & Prescription Drugs

Medications: Generic, Brand

Payments: Credit Cards

Rx: Prescribed Online, Over-The-Counter

Get Canadian Medicines Online

Canadian pharmacy and all its features worth knowing about Canadian pharmacy industry has distinctive features that drive customers even from other countries to buy there.

Learn about the main aspects of receiving drug treatment in Canada.

Canadian pharmacy: is it better than any other?

In U.S. News & World Report 2022, Canada was ranked #1 in the rating of countries where people would live.

More than 17,000 people from 85 nations all over the globe participated in a survey in which they were tasked with associating an attribute with a country.

Canada won proud first place in the nomination ‘Is a place people would live‘ and decent bronze in ‘Best Countries Overall‘. But we do understand that good quality of life includes more than beautiful nature with lakes and mountains, delicious maple syrup, stereotypical niceness of people, or weed legalization.

Let us talk about something more down to earth - Canadian healthcare and the accessibility of drugs to people in Canada.

In this article, we will touch on some aspects of how Canadian pharmacies work, and why Americans love ordering medications from Canada.

Price regulations

In the USA, drug manufacturers and providers can establish any prices they want. In Canada, it works differently. Patented Medicine Prices Review Board (PMPRB), a quasi-judicial body, was created in 1987 to prevent pharmaceutical patentees to charge excessive prices and, therefore, protect customers.

When the drug in Canada is approved, mandated regulations regarding its price come into force.

The system has been criticized a lot. For example, there were accusations that PMPRB keeps prices so low that life-saving drugs are not imported into the country anymore due to the cost-efficiency. On the contrary, there was a study in 2015, published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal.

According to the study, Canada ranked second in the cost of prescription drugs for the treatment of common conditions, such as high blood cholesterol and hypertension.

However, in comparison with other countries that have no such regulations, do not determine the prices through negotiation, and where the national public health system does not cover the residents, the situation with medication affordability is much direr.


The safety and quality of drugs in Canada are regulated and controlled as much as in the USA. Health Canada organization is a regulator, similar to the FDA in America. Two organizations actually collaborate. For example, they recognize each other’s food safety systems as comparable.

If you legally buy medication in Canada, there is no need to worry about its quality. Online enterprises, though, are an entirely different thing.

Online pharmacies

E-commerce is quite popular due to its simplicity and convenience, and web pharmacies are not an exception. But when it comes to something that directly affects your health, you should be extra careful.

According to the Internet Drug Outlet Identification Program Progress Report issued in August 2017, almost two-thirds of online pharmacies in North America are not trustworthy.

Here is a checklist provided by the official website of the Government of Canada. With its help, you can identify some “green flags” indicating that your online pharmacy may be legit:

  • Requires a valid prescription issued by a licensed healthcare provider;
  • Does not offer worldwide shipping;
  • Does not advertise a “miracle cure” that promises to solve all your health issues;
  • Has medium prices, comparable to what you can find in other pharmacies, no enormous discounts;
  • Has a brick-and-mortar location in Canada;
  • Provides services of a Canadian-licensed pharmacist who can consult you;
  • Has a license issued by a provincial or territorial pharmacy regulatory authority in Canada.

Integrative healthcare

All Canadians have access to free hospital, doctor, and diagnostic services through Canada's universal public health care system, which accounts for over 70% of the country's yearly health spending of 264 billion CAD.

However, there is no universal public insurance for pharmacy-related services, including prescription drugs. This, along with differences in provincial/territorial responsibilities, puts a strain on pharmacists’ integration into the primary health care system.

Moreover, the self-regulation of the pharmaceutical specialization also is a provincial/territorial mandate which adds a lot of jurisdictional incongruences. If we take 11,000 Canadian pharmacies and 28,000 community pharmacists working there, we would see that all of them possess the authority to prescribe, administer, and monitor drug therapies but all in varying degrees.

This means that besides their traditional dispensing role, Canadian pharmacies could and do provide expanded services, including:

  • medication reviews;
  • management for minor and common ailments;
  • pharmacist extending prescribed therapy by issuing a follow-up prescription;
  • smoking cessation counselling;
  • injectable drugs and vaccinations administration.

All of these ease a lot of tension put on the primary healthcare system and family doctors. It is also more convenient for patients who do not need to squeeze an appointment with the doctor into their schedule.

Nevertheless, these services cannot be provided widely due to uncertainties around remuneration and existing skepticism regarding pharmacists’ skills not just from customers, but from other healthcare workers as well.

There is also an issue of slow digitalization because of which pharmacists cannot easily access patients’ records.

In each province or territory, pharmacy specialists are enabled to provide such services in compliance with their unique remuneration models, standards of practice, and legislation.

All of the above calls for innovations and primary healthcare reform that will allow for achieving ongoing collaboration and seamless and consistent integration of two branches of medicine.

Buying from abroad

As we already mentioned, Canadian pharmacies offer regulated prices on medications which makes them very attractive to customers from across the border.

A lot of research proves that Americans spend much more on medications than Canadians due to the difference in costs. For example, compared to Canadians’ $484 million, the US residents spent $28 billion (USD) in 2018 on insulin. However, here is when the legal issue steps in.

When ordering a prescription drug from Canada, an American should be careful as not to violate FDA regulations and state laws.

There are lists of Canadian pharmacies licensed by the State Board of Pharmacy and considered as complying with state laws and regulations.

There are also additional restrictions, such as:

  • Controlled substances are prohibited;
  • No medications that are generic in Canada but are a brand name in the US;
  • The supply should not be more than is sufficient for an established period of time;
  • Medications that require special conditions in transportation, storage, or handling, are prohibited;
  • No medications that are non-prescription in Canada but require a prescription in the US (unless the patient has a prescription issued by a USA-licensed doctor), etc.

These conditions are quite similar to those that control what medication you can take with you in the US while coming back from abroad. The difference is that in this case, you are not going anywhere - your order is supposed to be delivered to you.

If you are planning to order from Canada and save money, we advise you to carefully consider all legal regulations applicable in your state.


Canadian pharmacies face some difficulties related to integration with the primary healthcare system. However, Canadian pharmacists are very determined to provide the best public healthcare possible.

Drug price regulations are another instrument making medications more affordable both for Canadian residents and people from other countries, the USA, in particular, driven by both beneficial pricing and the quality guarantee.

When ordering from a Canadian pharmacy online, it is important to verify both its legality and legality of your purchase in order to avoid prosecution and negative health effects.


Are Canadian pharmacies better than US?

Canadian pharmacies provide the same strict quality control while maintaining price regulations making drugs much more affordable.

Is buying from a Canadian pharmacy legal?

You can order from a licensed Canadian pharmacy legally if you are complying with laws and regulations issued by the FDA and your state’s authority. Those may include regulations regarding quantity, class of the substance, prescription issues, etc.

Can you buy prescription drugs online in a Canadian pharmacy?

In order to do so legally, check the guidelines provided by your state’s authority. There could be requirements. For example, the Canadian pharmacy has to be licensed by the State Board of Pharmacy, etc.

Can you order a controlled drug from a Canadian pharmacy to the US?

No, controlled drugs and medications not approved for use in the USA, cannot be ordered from abroad.