This abstract case study is offered as a general overview of the advantages of choosing a Canadian pharmacy online for ordering prescription drugs. What we’ll do is compare the average prices available for local consumers in US pharmacies to ones those same consumers could get with a Canadian pharmacy that is able to sell and ship to US residents.

The study will then conclude with what understandings can be had with these findings, as well as reference governmental progress on increasing access for US residents to prescription medication ordered from Canada.


Household budgets are tighter than ever for many households in America. This is paired with prices for prescription drugs that have gone up significantly over the last decade-plus. The majority of people who are on an ongoing course of medication are doing so because it is essential for their continued health and to avoid much more serious health risks, including premature death in some cases.

It is in these situations where being unable to afford and not make cuts elsewhere in monthly expenditure becomes a problem, especially for lower-income families where parents have much-needed medication needs and little in the way of healthcare insurance provisions. The need becomes for these people to have access to less expensive medication.


The objective here is this – to come to a more definitive conclusion whether or not an average Canadian pharmacy online has lower prices on drugs as compared to average prices paid at a local pharmacy in the USA. And is any price differential significant enough that ordering medication online from Canada becomes a better choice for US residents who encounter difficulties when affording their medications.

Along with this, we’re also going to put an additional secondary objective on whether a consumer should have concerns about a Canadian pharmacy and its reputability. Especially in comparison to a local pharmacy that’s easier to visit in person, but where prices for drugs are higher. Part of this analysis would be whether the products are the same level of purity, quality, efficacy, and safety.

The last objective will be to establish if Americans troubled with expensive prescription drug costs should in fact consider ordering medication from a Canadian pharmacy that dispenses the same drugs, but can do so with much better prices for the consumer.


The pharmaceutical industry in America is a multi-billion-dollar industry and it goes in step with how Healthcare in the USA is built on a for-profit model. There’s no better example of a drug that’s exploded in price than insulin, which can routinely sell for around $13 – $15 per milliliter now.

Arthritis is a very common condition in older Americans too. It’s common for people with inflammatory conditions like rheumatoid arthritis and inflammatory bowel disease to have to pay nearly $100 a month for treatment. That’s more than 4 times what it was on average just 15 years ago. Drug treatment of Hepatitis C is expensive too, and these are medications that Americans may be able to order from a Canadian Pharmacy.

To add some numbers to this, we can consider the following:

  • Only 9% of prescriptions are abandoned, and that number rises to 45% when the medication costs more than $125, and 60% when the medications cost more than $500 1
  • Approximately 70% of prescriptions have an out-of-pocket cost. The out-of-pocket cost for a generic prescription costing on average $6 and a brand name prescription costing on average $30 2
  • The Nation-wide average OOP (out-of-pocket) cost for prescription drugs was up 21% last year as compared to what it was 5 years before in 2014 3
  • Individuals getting their medication through Medicare Part D see the highest OOP increases, at 27% for a total expenditure of $16.1 billion.

For more information on per capita medication spending in the USA, click here

  • When comparing prices at US pharmacies to a Canadian pharmacy, note that Americans spend an average of $1,112 on prescription drugs each year. Canadians spend $772 on average each year. 4

For more information on per capita medication spending in Canada, click here

  • 5% of adults aged 18–64 who were prescribed medication in the past 12 months asked their doctor for a lower-cost medication to reduce their prescription drug costs


As it relates to our comparison of the potential savings with ordering from a Canadian pharmacy, the most relevant finding has to be that the average saved on select prescriptions when ordering them from Canada is around 65%. The issue that has limited Americans from taking advantage of this is access. US residents have had been prevented from ordering prescription meds from Canada and Canadian pharmacy but the FDA’s stance on that is softening.

It is expected that the White House’s executive order signed in July of 2020 may give Americans more access to less expensive drugs sourced from outside the country, and the expectation is that a Canadian pharmacy online is going to be the best choice because

  1. a) they have lower prices on prescription drugs
  2. b) Health Canada has the same regulatory function as the US FDA as it relates to pharmacy operating practices and regulations
  3. c) the ability to ship easily because of the proximity of the two countries.

We can clearly see that there is both a need and opportunity when it comes to large numbers of Americans struggling to afford medication and the way ordering drugs online from Canada and taking advantage of a Canadian pharmacy.

Conclusions and Relevance

This concludes a brief overview comparison for what Americans might want to be aware of for purchasing medication from a local pharmacy, or choosing instead to order it from a Canadian pharmacy online. It reinforces the conclusion that significant savings can be had when ordering medication from Canada and having it shipped to America. It likely works out to less money than what these individuals would be paying at that local pharmacy.

This advantage of using Canadian pharmacies is something lower-income Americans can consider, and as mentioned there are Federal provisions in place now that will make ordering medications online from Canada much more available to Americans.

Widespread adoption of the practice can likely be measured providing the next 5 years see those per-capita drug spending amounts moving to a similar range as compared to the sub-50% figures we see now when comparing Canada and the USA. A Canadian pharmacy may be the best option for Americans if it can provide those people with their medication for less and offer shipping to the USA.


1 Inviqia Institute, Medicine Spending and Affordability in the U.S., 04.20

2 CDC Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Health Statistics. Strategies Used by Adults Aged 18–64 to Reduce Their Prescription Drug Costs, 2017. 03.19 Products – Data Briefs – Number 332 – February 2019 (cdc.gov)

3 CDC Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Health Statistics. Strategies Used by Adults Aged 18–64 to Reduce Their Prescription Drug Costs, 2017. 03.19 Products – Data Briefs – Number 332 – February 2019 (cdc.gov)

4 Drugwatch, U.S. Drug Prices vs The World, 07.20