Can I buy prescription drugs abroad for my own use in the U.S.?

On Behalf of | Mar 9, 2023 | Drug Charges

Schedule II and Schedule III drugs are controlled substances. The government recognizes that while these drugs do have an acceptable medical use, there is a moderate to high risk of abuse. Many prescription drugs fall into these categories.

Some prescription drugs are difficult to find in the U.S. or are prohibitively expensive. Other nations might have these drugs available and at a lower cost. If you need a prescription drug that you cannot find or afford in the U.S., is it legal to import it from another nation?

Importation of drugs

In general, importing Schedule I or II drugs or narcotics in Schedule III into the U.S. from another country is considered drug smuggling, even if you have a prescription. There is an exception for times in which the Attorney General deems such importation necessary during an emergency when supplies are inadequate.

When it comes to non-narcotics in Schedules III, IV or V, importing these drugs into the U.S. from another country is generally considered drug smuggling unless the importation is for a legitimate use, and the person importing the drugs has a permit.

Only FDA approved drugs can be legally imported, and generally only states and manufacturers can import drugs.

However, individuals are permitted to import prescription drugs that do not have FDA approval on a case-by-case basis. Current law states that the FDA has the discretion to allow the importation of drugs for personal use if doing so does not pose an unreasonable risk to the person using the drugs.

So while it is tempting given drug shortages and ever-increasing prices to purchase prescription drugs from other countries, importing prescription drugs, especially narcotics, is illegal, although there are some exceptions to the rule.