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Foreign Internet Pharmacies: LegitScript’s Approach

We’ve seen a few posts here and there (on blogs and such) complaining that LegitScript doesn’t approve pharmacies outside of the United States, so by definition, any foreign pharmacy is considered “unapproved” or even “rogue”. That’s not LegitScript’s approach, so we thought we’d take the opportunity to clarify.

First, it’s absolutely true that there are plenty of legitimate pharmacies (including Internet pharmacies) located outside of the United States. But they are legitimate only if they are adhering to the laws and regulations where they are located AND where they ship to. In the US, Canada and many other countries, prescription drug importation is generally prohibited, and the dispensing pharmacy has to have a license in the jurisdiction where the drugs are being sent to.

Explained another way, LegitScript requires that Internet pharmacies respect the laws of any place where they do business. For example, if we were to find that an otherwise-legitimate US-based Internet pharmacy were violating the laws of another country (India, Russia, Germany, wherever) and shipping there without a license, we would rescind their approval and classify them as either unapproved or even “rogue.” And, the reverse is true: just having a pharmacy license in India, Russia or the UK doesn’t give that pharmacy carte blanche authority to ship wherever it wants.

It has also been suggested that LegitScript shuns foreign pharmacies as part of a scheme to keep prescription drug costs prohibitive for the uninsured here in the US. Put bluntly: That’s stupid. LegitScript simply requires that pharmacies adhere to the laws and regulations that govern them or the sale and dispensing of their drugs. The reason foreign pharmacies are currently not legally allowed to ship prescription drugs into the US lies in the fact that there is no regulatory process to monitor such drugs. And, while foreign pharmacies are held to certain standards for their own citizens, a little known fact is that these same standards do not apply for drugs shipped outside their own country. It has been the case, unfortunately, where an otherwise legitimate foreign pharmacy has used a different source for drugs shipped outside that country, and the drugs received by non-citizens were NOT the same as those received by citizens. In some cases, the drugs were found to be counterfeit or substandard.

LegitScript’s position is that until a regulatory system is in place to ensure drug safety and authenticity of imported prescription drugs, it is not worth the risk for citizens of any country to take the chance on ordering from locations not covered by their own countries’ drug safety regulations.

The important thing here is, although our verification program is US-focused, LegitScript doesn’t play favorites. Just as a foreign pharmacy shouldn’t violate US drug safety laws, a US-based pharmacy needs to respect other countries’ laws and regulations. This is the best way to ensure patients’ safety and Internet pharmacy legitimacy not just in the US, but worldwide.