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Protect Access to Safe Online Pharmacies Through Cyber Policy

Tracy Cooley

The high cost of prescription drugs has created a health and economic crisis in the U.S. Personal prescription importation gives Americans a lifeline for affording safe medications.

As prescription drug prices continue to skyrocket, the Internet has made it possible for Americans to access medications safely at considerable cost savings. As I've shared previously on CircleID, safety and affordability are the most important considerations when choosing an online pharmacy.

The Internet community should protect this access through cyber policymaking and effective Internet governance that embraces safe online pharmacies regardless of location.

We recently released the results of a survey of Americans who order their daily medications from licensed Canadian pharmacies, demonstrating the realities of personal prescription importation.

The overwhelming majority of respondents — 94 percent — cited cost as the main reason they order their medications from licensed, legitimate online pharmacies, which is an increase from last year's survey in which 79 percent of respondents cited cost as the main reason. In addition, 97 percent of survey respondents would recommend ordering prescription medications from an online pharmacy in Canada to their friends and family members.

Nearly half of respondents (48 percent) have been ordering their medications from Canada for more than four years.

This year's survey also showed an increase in the percentage of people who are hearing about online pharmacies from their healthcare provider or pharmacist: 39 percent of survey respondents indicated that a healthcare provider or pharmacist told them about online pharmacies compared to 26 percent in last year's survey.

Additional highlights:

  • Primary Reason is Cost: The majority of respondents (94 percent) - cite cost as the reason that they order their medications from an online pharmacy in Canada. Other reasons cited include consistency in pricing (9 percent); convenience (7 percent); consistency in availability (6 percent); and lack of availability in the U.S. (4 percent).
  • Spending through Ordering Online: Nearly half of respondents (48 percent) spend less than $99 per month ordering personal prescriptions from licensed online pharmacies in Canada. Thirty percent of respondents spend between $100-$199 and 12 percent spend between $200-$299. Among people who reported spending more than $300, the average amount they reported spending is $493 per month.
  • Savings through Ordering Online: We also asked survey respondents to compare what they would spend on their prescriptions in the U.S. to what they pay by purchasing them through a licensed online pharmacy in Canada. More than half of respondents (52 percent) report saving up to $199 each month by ordering through an online pharmacy. Among people who save more than $300 per month (38 percent of respondents), the average savings that they report is $910.
  • Years of Ordering Online: More than half of respondents (52 percent) report ordering their prescription medications from an online pharmacy for less than three years. Thirty-one percent have been using online pharmacies for between four and seven years, and 17 percent of respondents have been ordering for more than eight years.
  • Recommendations to Family and Friends: Overwhelmingly, survey respondents (97 percent) would recommend ordering prescription medications from an online pharmacy in Canada to their family and friends. More than half of respondents (55 percent) know someone already who has ordered their medications from Canada.
  • Initial Awareness of Ordering Online: Sixty-one percent of people surveyed heard about online pharmacies from friends or family members. Thirty-nine percent of respondents learned about online pharmacies from either a healthcare provider or pharmacist. [Note: This is up compared to last year's survey in which 26 percent of respondents cited learning about online pharmacies from a healthcare provider or pharmacist.]
  • Choosing an Online Pharmacy: More than 40 percent of people surveyed looked for a verified, certified site when deciding which online pharmacy to use. Twenty-eight percent of people surveyed use an online pharmacy that was recommended by a friend or family member. Twenty-nine percent of people selected a site based on ease of use or best price.
  • Knowledge of "Rogue" Pharmacies: The majority of respondents (88 percent) can properly identify the attributes of a rogue website that sells counterfeit medications, which includes pharmacies that do not require a valid prescription, do not have a licensed pharmacist on staff, do not protect personal and medical information, and pharmacies that sell controlled substances.

As this survey makes clear, importing prescription medications from safe, verified pharmacies in Canada provides a lifeline to those in need of affordable life-saving and health maintenance medications.

As a global Internet community, we must protect human rights as it intersects with digital technology and opposes anyone who uses the Internet to restrict Americans' ability to access safe and affordable medications.

For more information on personal prescription importation, please visit this link: https://personalimportation.org/

Survey methodology: CPPI conducted this online survey between September 3, 2018 and November 12, 2018. Based on the universe of followers of CPPI, this sample of 1,354 responses represents findings with a standard sampling error of plus or minus 5 percent. For more information on the surveys cited in this article, please visit https://personalimportation.org/understand-the-issue/survey-importation-from-canada-is-safe-and-affordable/.

By Tracy Cooley, Executive Director, Campaign for Personal Prescription Importation
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Share your comments

what about establishing trust with .PHARMACY DJ Chuang  –  Mar 15, 2019 10:54 AM PDT

Yes, trust and safety are extra important to people when it comes to pharmaceutical drugs.

Another way to establishes trust is the new gTLD .PHARMACY that has eligibility requirements, cf.
https://nabp.pharmacy/programs/dotpharmacy/apply/

This is a much more expedient way to ramp up online safety from several other angles, like the TLD itself would essentially guarantee the website is authentic, not spoof or spam, in the same way that .EDU, .GOV, and .MIL connotes that reassurance and trust for people.

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