It is becoming easier and easier for Canadians to purchase drugs online. A quick internet search will turn up hundreds, if not thousands, of websites selling drugs. It may seem convenient and cheap, but purchasing drugs online may expose the patient to serious health risks. While there are some legitimate outlets online, an overwhelming number are operating illegally and may sell inappropriate or dangerous drugs.
In Canada, the licensing of pharmacies—whether they have a traditional “brick and mortar” storefront only or a storefront with an online business—is primarily the jurisdiction of NAPRA’s members, the provincial and territorial pharmacy regulatory authorities.
Some websites will claim to be licensed by a Canadian regulatory authority when in fact they are not.
There are two ways to verify the legitimacy of an online pharmacy outlet.
- Verification with a Canadian Pharmacy Regulatory Authority
- Look up the Canadian business address on the online pharmacy’s website (e.g. home or contact us page). There may be additional information provided such as a pharmacy licence number, the College that provides the licence, contact telephone number and e-mail address. Once you have gathered this information, you can proceed to the next step.
- Go to the website of the pharmacy regulatory authority for the province or territory where the online pharmacy has established its business. This would be the body that provides a license for the pharmacy to operate.
For example, if the online pharmacy indicates it is located at 123 Any Street, Winnipeg, Manitoba, you would go to the website for the College of Pharmacists of Manitoba to confirm the pharmacy is licensed to operate.
- Verification through the .pharmacy domain name program
The .pharmacy program is a website verification program administered by NAPRA’s counterpart in the United States, the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy (NABP), to identify safe and legitimate online pharmacies and online sources of pharmacy information.
NAPRA is a key partner with NABP for the .pharmacy program in Canada. Any Canadian pharmacy business or organization seeking to obtain a .pharmacy domain name can apply through the .pharmacy website.
As this new program grows and gains recognition by the public, it will become an increasingly valuable means of identifying safe and legitimate online pharmacies and information sources for the public.
Visit https://www.safe.pharmacy/ to learn more about the program, to apply for a domain name, or to find a list of current .pharmacy websites.