Using Prescription Medications in a Foreign Country

Contributor: Crystal Karges, MS, RDN, IBCLC Special Projects Coordinator at Eating Disorder Hope/Addiction Hope

Prescription medication use in the United States is regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which monitors the safety and effectiveness of new and approved drugs.

Outside of the United States, the governing bodies and organizations that oversee prescription drug manufacturing, marketing, and use vary significantly. Many prescription drugs that are approved for use in the United States may not be approved in other countries, and vice versa. Prescription drugs are regulated differently in foreign countries and overseas, which may cause for a discrepancy in dosing, drug use, and more.

Prescriptions drugs that are currently approved for use on the market has typically been through a rigorous process in the United States, which includes the completion of clinical drug trials that reveal data on the effectiveness and safety of the drug, as well as other pertinent information, including:

  • Chemistry
  • Toxicology
  • Pharmacology
  • Manufacturing information

Foreign Prescription Meds

Many individuals may seek out prescription medications from other countries, particularly if certain medications can be obtained at a cheaper rate than what is found in the United States. Even if the prescription drug is legal for use in the United States, bringing foreign drugs back into the United States is considered an illegal practice.

With the rising costs of health care, this is become a practice that more frequently occurs, even in spite of the risks that come with it. Any prescription drug purchased outside of the United States and used by consumers is no longer protected by the FDA, and therefore, consumers are a greater risk in case of fraud, incorrect compounding, etc.

Man in Field in Front of MountainObtaining needed prescription medications at a cheaper cost from foreign countries may in theory seem like a good idea. However, this route comes with risks and consequences to the consumer. If you are having difficulty paying for the prescription medications that you need, be sure to speak with your doctor about possible options for health care assistance or aid.

Do not risk your health or wellness by purchasing prescriptions outside your home country, and be sure to follow the advise and recommendations given to you by your doctor and pharmacists.

Community discussion – Share your thoughts here!

What are potential consequences of obtain prescription medications abroad?

The opinions and views of our guest contributors are shared to provide a broad perspective of addictions and co-occurring disorders.  These are not necessarily the views of Addiction Hope, but an effort to offer a discussion of various issues by different concerned individuals.  We at Addiction Hope understand that addictions result from a combination of environmental and genetic factors.  If you or a loved one are suffering from an addiction, please know that there is hope for you, and seek immediate professional help.  

Last Updated & Reviewed By: Jacquelyn Ekern, MS, LPC on October 30th, 2015
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