Canadian Drugs

The State Board of Pharmacy says you could be risking your health by purchasing discounted drugs from Canada. The agency is planning an advertising blitz to warn patients about buying drugs over the internet or through storefronts popping up around the state, but senior citizens say the Canadian outlets help people save major money on expensive medications.

Senior citizen Mary Smith has a supplemental insurance plan to help her pay for her half-dozen prescription medications, but she understands why other seniors are turning to online Canadian websites or going to Canadian storefronts like to buy cheaper prescriptions

The storefronts and websites are actually illegal in Florida because they are not licensed or regulated by the state. The State board of Pharmacy plans to spend about three quarters of a million dollars on an ad campaign to warn consumers about the risks.

“If you go to such a place, you have no guarantee that you'll get the proper medication, the proper dosage, that the medication you'll get he name brand,” says Bill Parizek of the FL Department of Health.

We asked the Florida Attorney General's office if these pharmacies are illegal, why not just shut them down. A spokeswoman told me it's up to local prosecutors to decide whether to take action.

In the meantime, seniors and others struggling to afford their prescriptions will likely continue to use the Canadian connection. Look for the ads warning about unregulated drug outlets to start in the fall.

Florida does provide some low-cost options for seniors battling the high cost of prescriptions. Starting in January, a new service called sunshine for seniors will help put older Citizens in touch with free and discounted drug programs they may be eligible for.