How to circumvent going to the doctor
May 22, 2011 6:00 PM   Subscribe

Can you really order prescription drugs online without a prescription (in the USA)?

I don't have health insurance and I was wondering how safe it is to order a medication online, particularly from xlpharmacy.
posted by ReWayne to Health & Fitness (14 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Yes. But don't.

At best, you get something illegal. At worst, you get a totally unknown substance.

For many drugs, if you discuss potential alternatives with your doctor, s/he may know of a massively cheaper generic you could take (as in, two bucks a month).
posted by pla at 6:07 PM on May 22, 2011 [1 favorite]

There's a difference between what you can do and what is legal. This is something you can do but it is also illegal.
posted by dfriedman at 6:11 PM on May 22, 2011 [1 favorite]

You can absolutely order prescription drugs online, so long as you don't mind breaking the law. There's a pretty good likelihood that the drugs will be foreign-manufactured equivalents of U.S. drugs that will be safe and effective for their intended uses. However, there's also a decent chance that they will not be safe or effective, because there is no oversight or verification of these illegal businesses. And when you receive them in the mail, there will be absolutely no way for you to tell whether your medications are what you ordered or whether they will harm you.
posted by decathecting at 6:32 PM on May 22, 2011

You can order prescription drugs, but you really have no way of knowing if what you receive will be prescription drugs.
posted by needs more cowbell at 6:52 PM on May 22, 2011

I did this a few years ago. I needed a particular antibiotic for a condition that kept recurring. I ordered from a veterinary medicine company, I knew the proper dosage, and I used it properly, it worked just fine and saved me a whole lot of money. I had no insurance at the time.
posted by mareli at 7:20 PM on May 22, 2011

I've done this when I've been without insurance, and have several friends who do it on a regular basis. So far, there've been nothing but positive experiences--one person's order once got held up at the border, but the pharmacy re-sent it without a problem.

The meds that have been received are foreign-manufactured equivalents to US drugs, and they've all worked as expected.

Feel free to contact me if you'd like more info.
posted by MeghanC at 7:58 PM on May 22, 2011 [6 favorites]

Before you seriously consider this, please talk to your doctor and pharmacist. A doctor has actually told you to take this medication at some point, right? You may well be able to switch to a generic drug that will be effective, safe, and super cheap. Or there might be a patient assistance program offered by the drug company that would give you the medication at no/low cost if you meet income guidelines. You might even be able to save money by receiving tablets that are a higher dosage and cutting them in half. All of these are far safer and far more legal than attempting to import drugs by yourself from overseas.
posted by zachlipton at 9:00 PM on May 22, 2011 [2 favorites]

Yeah, the answer is as indicated above: You can do it. It isn't necessary legal to do it. The chances of getting fake or wrong medication is probably higher than with legal prescriptions but also likely overstated for obvious reasons by drug companies and customs enforcement types.
posted by Justinian at 9:32 PM on May 22, 2011

needs more cowbell: "You can order prescription drugs, but you really have no way of knowing if what you receive will be prescription drugs."

Wouldn't a pill ID site be helpful? Assuming it's on one?
posted by IndigoRain at 1:51 AM on May 23, 2011

In some cases, you'll be subjected to unethical business practices after the sale, including spam and unsolicited phone calls (in blatant defiance of the Do-Not-Call list and law in the United States)--with no legal recourse, needless to say.
posted by Gordion Knott at 2:32 AM on May 23, 2011

Depending on what you need, you can also drive down to Mexico. Most farmacĂ­as in the border towns have a well-oiled system catering to Americans seeking cheap meds, including getting prescriptions from a local doctor fast.
posted by Thorzdad at 4:38 AM on May 23, 2011

I've used to order Retin-A and Lumigan and have had nothing but positive experience. The Lumigan was US-manufactured (by Allergan, complete with hollogram sticker) but cost ten times less.

My understanding is that if you're importing for personal use there should be no issue, but this is third hand, so please check for yourself.
posted by Dragonness at 7:02 AM on May 23, 2011

Wouldn't a pill ID site be helpful? Assuming it's on one?

It would also be helpful to sellers trying to make their products look like legitimate prescription drugs when they're actually baking soda or whatever random chemicals they can get their hands on.

I think others are right that the risk of getting wrong or dangerous drugs is not as high as regulators would like you to believe. This is one of those low frequency, high risk situations, where chances are that nothing will happen, but if something does happen, it could be a really, really bad thing.
posted by decathecting at 8:54 AM on May 23, 2011

I've also known animal rescues who've ordered from alldaychemist with no problems and excellent results. Shipping is expensive, though.
posted by MeiraV at 2:42 PM on May 23, 2011

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