Is mail-order a good option for your drug plan? It depends on what you are trying to achieve, and whose behaviour you are trying to impact.
Mail-order pharmacies, also called online pharmacies, are pharmacies that operate on the Internet and send the prescription drugs directly to the patient’s home. When first introduced more than a decade ago, mail-order pharmacies in Canada ran into jurisdictional barriers. The issue was that inter-provincial shipping was forbidden and each province wanted to impose its own pharmacy rules and requirements. There were other issues around fill errors, lack of live support for the patient, and problems with parcel delivery. Adding to that, a growing number of illegal online pharmacies, many posing as “Canadian”, are selling counterfeit or somehow compromised drugs worldwide. In the summer of 2013, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, in partnership with international regulatory and law enforcement agencies, took action against more than 9,600 websites that illegally sell potentially dangerous, unapproved prescription medicines to consumers, issuing regulatory warnings and seizing over $41 million worth of illegal medicines worldwide (Source: FDA News Release, June 27, 2013).
These challenges curtailed the growth of legitimate mail-order pharmacies, until the upward spiral of prescription drug expenditure attracted brick and mortar pharmacies across Canada to the business of distributing drugs by mail.
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