Meds from overseas?
June 9, 2009 6:13 PM   Subscribe

Prescription medication from other countries to the US - logistics?

I have recently been prescribed Lexapro in combination with a CBT regimen which has been working very well in combating mild depression / anxiety. My insurance company may be reluctant to cover the drug.

This is frustrating in that it seems to be working for me very well, but I can not pay full price for it (over 100 dollars for a one-month supply) and do not want to have to discontinue using it after just starting (about 6 weeks in). As such I am looking for advice on getting it for cheap from other countries (I DO have a prescription for it).

-Is this even possible / Legal? (If not legal, I am still interested in the logistics from an educational standpoint)

-Is "generic" brand lexapro from other countries trustworthy? Is there a way to be sure? (I understand it hasn't been released as a generic in this country - which makes me suspicious of foreign generics)

- Are there reputable foreign companies that provide US customers with prescription medication? Are some more reputable than others?

-Are there people who do purchase prescription medications from other countries regularly, safely and reliably?

-What are the risks involved?

For full disclosure, I am increasingly frustrated with the US healthcare system and in my experience road-blocks are thrown up EVERY STEP of the way by insurance companies. I have never been on any sort of prescription medication before and am extremely healthy, yet I am finding it very difficult to work within the system to get the help that I need (and a treatment that is indeed working thus far). I am ignorant of the other options out there and have heard about people getting meds from I'm wondering what the deal is.
posted by jnnla to Health & Fitness (10 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
The consumer reviews on and on the listings at seem like the most helpful ones out there.

The risks in purchasing something like escitalopram oxalate online are probably limited to having it seized in shipment--if it was seized in shipment, it's very unlikely you'd be prosecuted because this isn't something people commonly resell for use as a recreational drug.
posted by Sidhedevil at 6:32 PM on June 9, 2009

Best answer: Inhouse Pharmacy has generic lexapro available to purchase (they also have the brand-name stuff if you prefer). I've dealt with them before, they tend to come through and deliver the goods.

You ask about the legality of importing medications into the US, but first let me tell you what has been my practical experience. You always run the risk of having your package intercepted by customs, whether the particular medication is technically legal to import or not. This does not happen often, however (happened to me once out of many, many such packages) and at worst you risk not being able to reclaim your meds. I try not to worry about it too much, and IMHO neither should you.

IIRC only drugs that are not FDA-approved may be legally imported into the US. Perversely, the only package I ever lost contained just such meds.
posted by tigrrrlily at 6:45 PM on June 9, 2009

Have you considered switching from Lexapro (escitalopram) to Celexa (citalopram)? The History section of this Wikipedia article does a nice job of explaining their similarity. And Celexa is on the $4 generic list at Target.
posted by selfmedicating at 7:04 PM on June 9, 2009

Oh, and if you do want to make this switch, call your doctor's office and ask to speak to the nurse. Explain the insurance situation and ask if they will call in a prescription for Celexa to your pharmacy. This situation happens all the time. Or ask your pharmacist, to call your doctor to ask about a switch. The US healthcare system is a pain, so you've got to be persistent.
posted by selfmedicating at 7:08 PM on June 9, 2009

Selfmedicating - this kind of switch might not work. I was recently switched from Effexor (venlafaxine) to Pristiq (desvenlafaxine) - Wyeth's attempt at reclaiming their patent - and I've been miserable ever since, even they're essentially the same drug. (Waiting for the price on venlafaxine to drop before I switch back, which a pharmacist told me will be about 6 months.) If jnnla is happy with his/her meds, it may not even be worth the attempt to change medications.
posted by IndigoRain at 1:10 AM on June 10, 2009

When my son was taking a very expensive medication, his doctor offered to help us get it from Canada if our insurance wouldn't cover it. Can your doctor help you? (Note: my son's doctor's willingness to help does not necessarily mean that it would have been legal.)
posted by The corpse in the library at 6:51 AM on June 10, 2009

i have purchased drugs over the internet. just clarinex and singulair, nothing more than that. i have been pleased.

i personally buy the brand name only when buying from overseas because (at least i'm pretty sure) the ingredients (active and inactive) are exactly the same. but when you go into generic country, you have different fillers and additives (color, etc.) and i am sensitive to a ton of stuff and don't want to spend $60 to get a generic i'm allergic to because bolivia puts red #6 in their clarinex. or whatever.

be sure you do your research on the site that you plan to purchase from. many of them are scams, but some are quite legit. and some are borderline. as said above, you may lose your package at customs, but that's a risk you have to be willing to take to save some money.
posted by misanthropicsarah at 6:56 AM on June 10, 2009

If your script is not covered, you can get 50% off by mail or 20% off (averages, both) by using the RxSavings Plus card issued by Caremark. is the web address-- the program is free, you get your card immediately online, and you can use it at 9 out of 10 drugstores (includes CVS, Costco, Walmart, Walgreens, Cub, etc., etc.). I found out about the card from a friend who uses it to get their pet's scripts, and indeed, I got my dog's meds with the discount-- and it's totally okay per the program.

Just an alternative. As to actual foreign pharma, I've used MedsMex for topical dermatology products for years with no problem. They have Lexapro for $99, but I'd still probably buy stateside.
posted by Arch1 at 8:06 AM on June 10, 2009

If you haven't started taking the Effexor yet, I second the idea of discussing taking Celexa instead with your doctor/psychiatrist. Generic celexa (citalopram) is indeed on the $4 rx list at many pharmacies, who also offer it at $10/ 3 months.

Up until last month, I had been paying $15/month as a copay for generic citalopram. At my most recent psych appt., my doctor told me about the $4/$10 deal, and I'm very happy to be spending $40 a year instead of $180 a year! No insurance is required for the $4/$10 deals, just a valid prescription.
posted by insectosaurus at 7:45 AM on June 11, 2009

Response by poster: Thanks very much for all the responses guys...this gives me a lot to consider!
posted by jnnla at 11:48 AM on June 11, 2009

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