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Purchasing Medications
Outside the United States

Traveler Alert

Occasionally, U.S. residents purposely travel to other countries to purchase medications (drugs) for personal use. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is concerned that medications purchased abroad may present health risks to the user.

Medications approved for sale in the United States undergo rigorous testing and review to verify their identity, potency, purity, and stability and demonstrate that they are safe and effective for their intended use. Not all countries have approval procedures and manufacturing controls similar to the United States. Due to potential health risks, FDA would like you to know:

  • It can be dangerous to take some medications without medical supervision. The reason why some medications are limited to prescription use in the United States is that either they are unsafe without medical supervision or a medical diagnosis is required to assure that the medication is appropriate for your condition;
  • FDA can not assure that products not approved for sale in the United States conform with the manufacturing and quality assurance procedures mandated by U.S. laws and regulations;
  • Some medications may be counterfeit versions of U.S. approved products;
  • Treatment for an adverse drug reaction can be delayed or hindered without sufficient product information;
  • Possession of certain medications without a prescription from a physician licensed in the United States may violate state and local laws.

If you have questions about the use of any medication, FDA encourages you to contact your physician, your local pharmacist, or the Board of Pharmacy for the state in which you live.