How can I safely order a prescription drug from Canada that's not approved in the US?
November 25, 2009 1:58 PM   Subscribe

How can I order a drug from Canada that's not approved in the US? Will I go to jail? The drug is domperidone and it is widely used to treat gastroparesis (delayed stomach empyting) in Canada and in Europe. There's a big controversy about its not having been approved by the FDA. It's considered a very safe drug everywhere in the world. This disorder, if you're interested, involves feeling too full after eating, and is very annoying and disconcerting, but doesn't seem to be actually dangerous (at least not in my case). Diabetics get it a lot, but mine is "idiotpathic" (i.e. no cause can be found). It seems to reflect a problem with the vagus nerve (maybe).

I had this condition of "idiopathic gastroparesis"for the first time five years ago. It was diagnosed by a gastroenterologist after ruling out all kinds of other things (I had a gastroscopy, barium swallow, etc., and no physical blockage was found) who put me on Reglan which didn't really help (which he predicted). At that time he actually suggested that I might want to try domperidone, but told me it's not sold in the US.

Last time the gastroparesis went away by itself after six months. This time I've just had it for a couple of weeks so far but was thinking maybe I want to be more aggressive in making myself feel better faster.

Therefore: how can I order domperidone safely? when I google it of course there are all kinds of ads for online pharmacies, but I've never done this before. How do I know I'm going to be sent the right drug? And am I doing something illegal? Will dogs come to my house to smell all my medications?? Will I be fined or imprisoned???

Thank you.
posted by DMelanogaster to Health & Fitness (9 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
oh lord I meant idiopathic, but I guess I'm feeling like an idiot today.
posted by DMelanogaster at 1:59 PM on November 25, 2009

It's commonly ordered abroad for nursing mothers; it's also a galactalogue, meaning it increases milk supply. Here's a list of places you can order it from, including from New Zealand where no prescription is required.
posted by KathrynT at 2:20 PM on November 25, 2009

This list is much like KathrynT's, but I think it's slightly more updated. Keep in mind that the FDA issued a warning on domperidone a couple of years ago, so your shipment might be delayed or stopped. You could be better off contacting a US-based compounding pharmacy so that you don't have to deal with customs issues.
posted by Addlepated at 2:26 PM on November 25, 2009

You won't go to jail. If Customs finds it, they'll confiscate it and notify you, but nothing else will happen, you'll just be out the money.
posted by spasm at 2:33 PM on November 25, 2009

2nding Spasm. You won't go to jail, and as I've learned from ordering certain things online, it'll just get stuck in customs forever or it'll get sent back. Some websites will refund you if it does, others will not.
posted by biochemist at 3:10 PM on November 25, 2009

Thank you.

What's a compounding pharmacy, and do you know of a reputable one that will not put e.g. strychnine in my domperidone just for kicks?
posted by DMelanogaster at 5:38 PM on November 25, 2009

Never mind, I just ordered the drug from New Zealand without a prescription!

posted by DMelanogaster at 5:49 PM on November 25, 2009

What's a compounding pharmacy

While I don't intend to slight pharmacists, who are highly trained professionals who have to deal with a lot of crap every day while making no mistakes, most pharmacies are really dispensaries... Receiving a prescription from your doctor, billing your insurance, checking the computer for possible interactions with other drugs you're on, finding the correct bulk bottle in the shelves, counting out your pills, labeling your bottle, giving them to you, and answering any questions you have.

A compounding pharmacy can also mix custom medicines to your doctor's specifications. They make compounds. For instance... a Tylenol #3 is a 300mg to 30mg mix of acetaminophen and codeine. A Tylenol #4 is 300:60. Lets say you need something more like a 500mg:60mg ratio. A compounding pharmacy can produce that for you (and lots of other things as well.)
posted by toxic at 9:20 PM on November 25, 2009

But isn't it bizarre that they can "compound" something that's not FDA-approved?

It would seem like the ultimate workaround for drugs that are not approved by the FDA, and yet people go to other countries for those.

I'm just surprised I've never heard of this before and I'm gulp 59.
posted by DMelanogaster at 6:18 AM on November 26, 2009

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