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Canadians are more open to ordering medication and medical supplies online amid the COVID-19 pandemic

A new survey reveals an upward trend in purchasing medication and medical products on the internet


TORONTO (June 18, 2020) – A new comprehensive survey released today from the Alliance for Safe Online Pharmacies Canada (ASOP Canada) revealed that since the COVID-19 pandemic began, half of Canadians have become more open to ordering medication, medical supplies or other healthcare products online.


Throughout the pandemic, there has been a substantial spike in substandard PPE and fake treatments for coronavirus for sale online through illegal sites. The survey found that 20 million adult Canadians are open to purchasing medications from online sources and 1 million (3% of the population) have already done so, up from 1% only two years ago.


“While online shopping has become a convenient way to buy many critical goods and services, it’s especially important for patients to understand the potential risks and to carefully check that the website is legitimate,” said Joelle Walker, Vice President, Public Affairs with the Canadian Pharmacists Association and Chair of ASOP Canada’s Steering Committee. “There is a need for greater awareness among patients, health providers and the public, and action among government, law enforcement and Canada’s internet sector to keep Canadians safe.”


Key survey findings include:


  • 2 in 3 Canadians are open to purchasing medication, medical supplies or any healthcare products online.
  • Younger and wealthier Canadians are particularly likely to look online.
  • The ease, speed and convenience of purchasing medications and medical supplies online are the more persuasive arguments for online purchase.
  • 4 in 10 respondents would be open to ordering from a knowingly unofficial or unsanctioned source.
  • Risks associated with purchasing medicine or medical supplies online include authenticity of the medication they would receive, getting the wrong medication and the overall condition of the medication.


An infographic highlighting key findings can be found here.  Health Canada has created a website, Health Product Advertising Incidents related to COVID-19, to track different false or misleading products and where they are sold. Many reported incidents on Health Canada’s website involve products sold online.


ASOP Canada commissioned Abacus Data, a Canadian polling and market research firm based in Ottawa, Ontario, to evaluate the Canadian public’s attitudes towards online medication/medical supply purchasing during the pandemic. The survey of 2,280 Canadian residents was conducted from May 1-6, 2020.



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ASOP Canada Chapter is a program of the Alliance for Safe Online Pharmacies which is a U.S. nonprofit tax-exempt social welfare organization organized to promote global policies and programs for improved patient safety involving online distribution of pharmaceutical products. ASOP Canada Chapter is not a separate legal entity.