CanadaRx – Self Funded Plan Option? Is It Legal?



This advertisement ( is in the June 2011 issue of Texas Co-op Power  – Guadalupe Valley Electric Co-op. Importation of foreign Rx does not seem to be an issue apparently. This could be a heck of a mail order source for self-funded health plans if it is legal.
Any comments you have, or information that would be helpful here, please let me know. PBM’s- what do you think of the pricing in this advertisement? Consultants – have you checked out the legality of importing Rx for ERISA plans?



Illinois Consultant : I didn’t think it was legal. From what I’ve heard, their brand pricing is better in Canada, but generic pricing is better here…..


East Texas Attorney:  Bill, the “official” position of the FDA is that they are not going to take the time or expend the resources to chase individuals who purchase drugs from the Canadian paharmacies. The web site does not afford “clearance” for “commercial” utilization. I think that there may be an opportunity where a self-insured organization makes the information available to the employees, but injecting the PBM into the equation to make direct payment to the Canadian pharmacies may be more problematic. There is room for some creativity here, and the stakes are substantial. Talk to you later this week.


San Antonio Physician : First of all, there is a question as to whether or not this is legal to import prescription drugs.  My understanding is that it is not legal, but Customs looks the other way and isn’t trying to enforce the law for routine prescriptions like this.  But then I can’t speak authoritatively on the issue.

The second issue is that the drugs you get are apparently not always from Canada.  A number of years ago, I had ordered Rx’s from the Canadian Drug Store (it was for Zocor before it became a generic).  At one point I was getting drugs sent from Australia.  Apparently to stop the importation from Canada, some of the pharmaceutical companies were refusing to sell to the Canadian outlets, so the Canandian outlets were getting their supply from elsewhere (Australia in this case).  That issue may have taken care of itself, but it made me concerned that I really didn’t know where or what I was getting.  So, personally, I have stopped doing this.  I have friends who continue to use this outlet, and so far, they’re still alive.

Is this a viable option for self insured plans?  Yes, practically speaking it may be.  But, as plan sponsor for the XXXX plan, I don’t think we can be proponents of shopping outside the US, especially if it’s illegal.  If it turns out that it’s not illegal, the next issue is what mechanism do we employ to ensure we’re dealing with reputable outlets?  If someone goes on-line, buys from someone in some country other than, say, Canada, has a reaction, we could conceivably be liable.  I don’t want to take on that kind of liability.

The third issue is coordinating the purchases with the PBM.  All the purchases have to be paid for by CC.  That means individuals have to pay, and the system has to figure out some way to get them reimbursed for some part or all of the cost.  Most employees aren’t willing to go through that hassle, and many don’t have the cash or CC credit availability to pay for these meds up front.  So, this presents a practical problem as well.

This only works for those taking chronic medications anyway.   We would have to do an analysis to see who is taking this kind of medication, how many of the meds are non-generic, and then figure out how much could really be saved.  It may not be worth it


Nevada Based Rx Importer: There are divergent opinions on whether or not foreign drug importation is legal. Pragmatically, you can do it and no one is going to stop you.  The boogy man is the scare that the govt and but pharmacy has instilled in the public stating that you never know what you are getting when you order from wherever.  The public acceptance has been slow.  Employers are not really interested. 

The savings are can be substantial however this ad does not even come close to the savings realized when ordered through us….The viagra that we sell (from the manufacturer) is 50 tabs for $125 …much less than the 12 tabs for $144.  But our brand viagra is about the same.  The ad has no mention of an Rx, but our program does require it.  Makes it sound shady, no?

IF we could get anyone to purchase the meds, the savings are there for the taking. to see our web site…