Legal Implications of Purchasing Drugs Internationally


Are you among those seniors who find medicines in the US too expensive? If you have budgeted your retirement, the rising cost of medicines may seem to weigh you down. Maybe you’ve even made trips to Canada and bought medicines at much lower rates. But have you ever wondered what legal issues surround purchasing drugs internationally? If you have, then we suggest you read further to stay abreast of the legal implications related to this practice.

If you are purchasing drugs from international sources, do you face any legal issues?

Purchasing prescription drugs internationally and bringing them into the US is not legal. The FDA follows a closed regulatory system that means that the FDA has to be involved in every stage, right from when the drug is manufactured, to when it is sold to a consumer. But don’t lose hope. There are certain provisions, which allow for discretion in the enforcement of this law. If you meet certain conditions, your drugs will not be seized by a customs official. The “personal importation policy” allows you to bring unapproved drugs into the country, but you need to keep in mind the following:

  • It has to be for personal use in a serious condition
  • You will not promote or commercialize the drug

Mail order prescription drugs

As importing drugs is illegal, mail ordering drugs will also be considered an illegal practice. But the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced on October 2006, that CBP will not be confiscating shipments of drugs from Canada. This is applicable as long as the drugs are approved by the FDA and non-controlled. The quantity of drugs that can be bought is not specified. You can read a news article on this topic entitled ‘US eases its restrictions on prescription drugs from Canada’ at the website of BMJJournals.