FAQs on the legality of buying medicines online

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Is it legal to buy medicines online from the USA?

It depends on the answers to these 2 questions:
Are the medicines you want to buy controlled by the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA)? (See the complete list at the DEA's website)
Do you have a prescription (given to you by a physician following a face-to-face medical evaluation)?

Ordering with a prescription in-hand:
If you have a valid prescription and want to buy non-controlled substances online then that is perfectly legal, from US-based or international online pharmacies.

If you have a valid prescription and want to buy controlled substances online within the US then from our best (non-legaly qualified) guesstimation that appears to be legal, but a bit academic as there are no legitimate online pharmacies which sell medicines controlled under federal law inside the US anymore. Ordering controlled medicines from outside the USA, even with a valid prescription, is illegal under the original Controlled Substances Act of 1970. (see 21 USC, Section 952)

Ordering without a prescription:
If you don't have a valid prescription and want to buy non-controlled substances online then if you buy from US-based online pharmacies you won't be breaking any laws, as far as we can tell. If you buy from a Canadian pharmacy the law makes generous provisions, but even if the pharmacy is located outside North America federal law is quite relaxed. Importing any prescription drugs (even non-controlled medicines) falls under the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, but the law specifically states that enforcement should be focused on cases in which the importation by an individual poses a threat to public health. Furthermore it says that discretion should be exercised to permit individuals to make such importations in circumstances in which the prescription drug or device imported does not appear to present an unreasonable risk to themselves. (See section J here)

The FDA's own guidance states: “FDA personnel may use their discretion to allow entry of shipments of violative FDA regulated products when the quantity and purpose are clearly for personal use, and the product does not present an unreasonable risk to the user. Even though all products that appear to be in violation of statutes administered by FDA are subject to refusal, FDA personnel may use their discretion to examine the background, risk, and purpose of the product before making a final decision. Although FDA may use discretion to allow admission of certain violative items, this should not be interpreted as a license to individuals to bring in such shipments.” (Source: FDA Regulatory Procedures Manual March 2010, Chapter 9 Import Operations And Actions, page 13. http://www.fda.gov/downloads/ICECI/ComplianceManuals/RegulatoryProceduresManual/UCM074300.pdf )

Note also that the restricted definition of what is a valid prescription has only been changed by the law in relation to controlled substances. Therefore it could be argued that if an international online pharmacy issues you with a 'prescription' as part of the ordering process for a non-controlled substance then you would not be breaking any laws (see this quite complex legal article).

If you don't have a valid prescription and want to buy controlled substances online then you should be aware that according to the 'Ryan Haight Online Pharmacy Consumer Protection Act of 2008' that would be illegal. The new law is quite specific about what is, and what is not, considered a “valid prescription” in connection with controlled substances. In this case a valid prescription is one that you get from a physician following a face-to-face medical evaluation; any prescription obtained over the internet or telephone is not valid under this law. The law is mainly aimed at pharmacists, not their customers, and prosecutions of customers by the Department of Justice's DEA to-date have to our knowledge been few and far between, but you should be aware that you could be breaking the law if you order controlled substances over the web without a valid prescription.
 
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SomeDudeK

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^ This is great - could anyone provide a similar rundown for Canada by chance? :)
 

YAHHOO

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I hate how open for interpretation they leave it basically if they wanna get you your screwed so just be careful keep the orders small and irregular
 

NYJets

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This is a great post and I just read Section J about non controlled medications. Sorry to ask this, but just making sure I am reading this correctly. If someone ordered 100 0.1mg Clonidine (Catapres) from 4rx (India), he shouldn't come into any problems with customs?

As far as I know, Catapres is not a controlled substance. The reason I ask this is because this order is for a friend and it is going to his address. I have no problems with ordering controlled/non-controlled meds to my address because that is a risk I've accepted to take. He asked me about this since he has no insurance, so I told him that as long as it's not a controlled substance, he has nothing to worry about. I know there is always a risk, but how high of a risk is it? I'd rather not have to put my friend through the risk of what many of us deal with.
 

Pmpdadinc

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This might be a strange question, but what about orders that originatewithin the US? Of course I know controlled sub would be a problem,but there seems to be a lot of places willing to ship you antibiotics and the like.
 

kineticode

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Non-controlled substances in US,no problem.Some sites claim to sell controlled meds in US without script,must be a sting or a scam! Definitely illegal.
 

pcguyusa

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^ This is great - could anyone provide a similar rundown for Canada by chance? :)

Not by chance. But I'm an American citizen and it took me less than 3 minutes to find it. If you're Canadian you should be able to locate it faster than me.

Yes, I'm one of those PIA teachers that won't give an answer to anyone that hasn't put any effort into finding one themselves.

Hint: Canadian, Government, Healthcare

At least your question wasn't as bad as the "what is a roxycontin" one.
 

Slapshot

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So ordering Tramadol from a US based website and shipping it within the US wouldn't put someone in any legal trouble? Sorry if this is a dumb question :p
 

kineticode

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Tramadol is not a controlled substance in the US. I do not think you will get into any trouble buying it online. Correct me if I am wrong.
 

kineticode

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Busted for Viagra? How embarassing.Impotence at its best. I guess that includes Tramadol. Sorry for incorrect info. Thanks drboris.
 

CPain7

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I know its hard to say but do cc companies report any purchases through overseas pharmacies. or flag your name or anything.
 

QVC1212

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Reading that news article, one can come to only one conclusion: possession of any prescribed substance, let alone a controlled substance, is against the law. Even if it's viagra or blood pressure medication. It's a sad state of affairs, but "taking the label off the bottle" isn't going to cut in court in front of a judge. I disagree wholeheartedly with the punishments, the law, the legislation. But what can one do? Order and hope not to get caught I suppose.
 

cv2006

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Tramadol is not a controlled substance in the US. I do not think you will get into any trouble buying it online. Correct me if I am wrong.

You still need a prescription to take tramadol. So possession of it without a valid prescription is a crime. In fact, many states track tramadol prescriptions filled to ensure patients aren't filling a script at many different pharmacies, and if you order online, and your bottle arrives and it came from a state which also tracks tramadol, those states (from research I've done - don't take this last statement as absolute fact) can share information to nab patients who fill tramadol scripts in different states in excessive quantities or in quantities that exceed the prescriptions their doctor wrote them.
Now how often states with databases share information, and how easily they can access each other's databases, I don't know. Maybe someone can provide more information on this.

So basically, you absolutely can get in trouble for buying tramadol without a prescription. It is not a grey area. It's illegal if you buy a prescription medication without a prescription.

It's too bad because my doc has recently given me a few refills and tramadol seems like a great med to be offered over-the-counter. It doesn't have that euphoria (no addicition potential) like an opiate, and works so well at pain relief (probably better than codeine in my opinion, which is over-the-counter in plenty of countries). Unfortunately you need your doc's prescription first though. Just wanted to make sure people don't think this is a grey area.
 
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danmarti

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I agree that tramadol should be otc. It doesnt have any addictive qualities at all. I have had it prescribed to me a few times and I never felt like I should take more than the recommended dose and never had withdrawals. It does work great for pain though.
 

Jolie

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I agree that tramadol should be otc. It doesnt have any addictive qualities at all. I have had it prescribed to me a few times and I never felt like I should take more than the recommended dose and never had withdrawals. It does work great for pain though.

I strongly disagree. I've written numerous time in other threads on my negative opinion on tramadol. It is basically an opiate, addictive, and can easily cause seizures. I hate to say this, but my gut feeling is that many people abuse OTC medication, not to get high, but just to increase there potency. They think hey, it's OTC, it can't be that bad for me!

I think it's a scary drug. I scared me being on it more than my prescribed percocet. It's hard to explain, but the way it made me feel, the sweats, the jumbled brain....shuddder :eek:
 

Chichi

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I strongly disagree. I've written numerous time in other threads on my negative opinion on tramadol. It is basically an opiate, addictive, and can easily cause seizures. I hate to say this, but my gut feeling is that many people abuse OTC medication, not to get high, but just to increase there potency. They think hey, it's OTC, it can't be that bad for me!

I think it's a scary drug. I scared me being on it more than my prescribed percocet. It's hard to explain, but the way it made me feel, the sweats, the jumbled brain....shuddder :eek:

Yes, Ii'll echo this. It's definitely addictive and will never become otc in the US. Heck, I'm not confident it will remain non-controlled for much longer. :)

But, saying Tramadol is not addictive is misleading, it definitely is. I know cuz I'm addicted to it this very moment, and have been for years - just one of things I've accepted.

But, it is a taboo medication? No, it's excellent at what it does and I would highly recommend it as an alternative to narcotics. Of course, it can affect people in many different ways so @Jolie's experience could certainly be shared by others - as can mine. ;)

Didn't realize I had hijacked this thread, sorry for that. I do this all the time and I truly don't mean too. BUT!
This thread is great reading and i can't thank you enough for the link to internetdruglaw.com! This information is great - I'm definitely one who needs legal interpretations! :)
 
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