Thursday, October 9, 2014

Mail Order Medicine

This is a short, hybrid post. It started as a guest post by a friend, but by the time they got all of the information together they were a bit paranoid about divulging too much personal information or possibly getting in trouble for advocating that people "get around the system" by skirting the laws. That's when I sat down with them and went over it line-by-line and we hashed out a way to put forth the information without the personal risks to them.

If you're without insurance or need to stockpile medication in your preparations but your doctor won't help, this may be of interest to you. I am in no way, shape, or form advocating anyone use this information to acquire drugs for illegal use. This information is for those who have a legitimate medical need for medications and may not have any other viable source for them.

A while back, my friend (we'll call them Pat) lost a job and the health insurance that went along with it. Pat isn't stupid, and had a small stockpile of the medications taken on a daily basis set aside but some of it ran out before replacement insurance was found. Pat has some health issues: high blood pressure, border-line diabetes (controlled by diet and exercise, no drugs), frequent infections (due to the diabetes) and some others that I can't mention. One of the side-effects of high blood pressure medications is fluid retention, so the doctor gave Pat a prescription for a "water pill", a common diuretic. That's the one that ran out before insurance was found. Now Pat could have gone back to the clinic, seen the doctors and gotten another prescription, but the cost of an office visit (~$200) and the pills (~$150) at the pharmacy without insurance would have destroyed the budget for the month and recurred every month until things got sorted out.

What's a person to do? Going without the medicine was not an option, since water retention will make you swell up in the legs to the point where walking is painful and eventually impossible, so Pat needed to find another source of the needed medication. While emptying the spam folder of an email account, Pat saw one of the ubiquitous ads for Viagra/Cialis/etc that we all see caught in the spam filters. Since the ED (Erectile Dysfunction) drugs are not a Scheduled Controlled Substance (the DEA classifies drugs according to their abuse/addiction potential), and neither is the diuretic Pat needed, it was a small logical leap to think about using a pharmacy overseas to get the prescriptions filled.

The types of medications available online include:
  • Allergies
  • Anti Fungal
  • Anti Viral
  • Antibiotics 
  • Anxiety
  • Arthritis
  • Asthma
  • Birth Control
  • Blood Pressure
  • Cholesterol Lowering
  • Depression
  • Diabetes
  • Erectile Dysfunction
  • Gastrointestinal
  • Hair Loss
  • Heart Disease
  • Herbals
  • Men's Health
  • Muscle Relaxant
  • Pain Relief
  • Skincare
  • Sleep Aid
  • Quit Smoking
  • Weight Loss
  • Women's Health

On-line pharmacies work in a couple of different ways. 
  • The more legitimate pharmacies will ask you to fax of email a copy of your prescription to them and they will send your medications out to you through the mail once you've paid for them. This system works and is a good way to save money if you're on a fixed or low income since the pharmacy has much lower overhead and if they're not in the USA they don't have to abide by minimum pricing rules/agreements/contracts. They will be able to get generic versions of most non-scheduled medications at a substantial discount. The best ones are in Canada or the UK, and their quality is the same as you'd expect to find in your corner drug store.
  • The borderline pharmacies will ask you for a brief medical history and have a licensed Physician on their staff look at it and write your prescription. This may be seen as a "rubber stamp" prescription, since the doctor never actually sees the patient in person. Again, your medications will be sent to you through the mail after payment. Sometimes they come from Canada, sometimes from the factory in India. They will be generic versions of the medications, usually made in factories in India that are regulated by the Indian version of the FDA. The quality should be on par with those made in the USA.
  • The questionable online pharmacies will ask you what you want and mail it to you. The medications are usually made in China or Mexico and the quality is a crap-shoot. There are plenty of stories of adulterated food coming out of China and Mexico, and I'm not sure I'd trust them to make my medicines.
  • The downright illegal places are those found on the "darknet". Google "Tor services" and "the Silk Road" for examples of how to access the hidden layers of the internet, where you can buy anything imaginable if you can pay in Bitcoin or direct transfer to a bank account in the Cayman Islands. Since these vendors are working outside of the legal system, you're on your own as far as quality and delivery go.
Payment is usually by credit card and I'd suggest using pre-paid disposable cards to protect your bank accounts and personal information. Delivery through the Post Office is usually via Registered Mail and will require an adult signature upon delivery. Overseas shipment of anything via FedEx, UPS, or DHL is expensive, but a lot quicker than the international postal system.

My friend Pat needed a few months worth of medication. Under Pat's old insurance, a month's worth of the diuretic cost only the $20 co-pay; without insurance it would have cost $70. Going through a Canadian "borderline" pharmacy cost Pat about $18, having bought enough to get through 90 days. The prescription was sent in blister packs of ten pills instead of loose in a bottle, and delivery took about 8 days. They have worked just as well as the US made pills (Pat's came direct from India) and saved a bunch of money. Since Pat went through a doctor and got a prescription, there were no laws broken.

As always, your mileage may vary and I take no responsibility for any actions on your part. I am passing on information which may be used for good or evil and I have no control over how you choose to use this information. You and only you are responsible for your choices.

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