Feature Archive

Buying Drugs Online

Buying drugs from Canadian online pharmacies can equal big savings, but first know your sources.

By Neil Osterweil
WebMD Feature

Reviewed By Michael Smith

Michael Albano had big budget problems. As mayor of Springfield, Mass., the fourth largest city in New England, Albano faced massive cuts in state aid, forcing him in February 2003 to announce layoffs of more than 300 city workers, including police officers and firefighters.

As father of a 13-year-old boy with type 1 diabetes, Mike Albano also had a personal financial crisis, caused by the skyrocketing cost of his son's daily insulin, needles, and blood sugar testing supplies.

As a partial solution to both problems, Albano did what no other U.S. city leader until then had dared to do: he went to Canada.

In July of 2003, Albano launched an innovative, voluntary program that allows city employees and retirees to purchase maintenance medications -- such as drugs to treat high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and diabetes -- from Canadian suppliers. Because the Canadian government -- like the governments of nearly all industrialized nations except the U.S. -- mandates price controls on medications and limits the prices that Canadian pharmacies can charge, drugs sold in Canada often cost substantially less than the identical medicine sold in the U.S.