Feature Archive

Getting Cheap Drugs Without Crossing the Border

WebMD Feature

July 14, 2000 -- As more Americans trek to Canada or Mexico to buy critical prescription drugs they cannot afford here, some U.S. doctors have a devised a system they say will help. The United Health Alliance (UHA), a physicians' group in Bennington, Vt., that negotiates contracts with health maintenance organizations (HMOs) and other health organizations, has hit upon a system that allows patients to get inexpensive prescription drugs from Canada without crossing the border. Here's how it works:

Doctors fax an order form developed by the UHA to a Canadian pharmacy listing the doctor's license number and Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) number and the desired drugs and quantities along with the patient's credit card number. The drugs and shipping charges are billed to the patient's personal credit card, then mailed to the doctor's U.S. office (which may be why the Canadian pharmacy will accept U.S. license and DEA information in this case), where the patient picks the package up unopened. This way, the paper trail shows that the patient bought the drugs for individual use, as allowed by the FDA.

Since the UHA system was developed in mid-June, many doctors have said they would offer the service to their patients. Elizabeth Wennar, director of UHA, has received calls about the system from as far away as California and has been asked to explain the system to doctors and seniors groups around New England. For more information, contact the UHA at (802) 447-3170 or see the group's web site at www.unitedhealthalliance.com.