Pricey Prescription Solution?

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Knoxville (WVLT) - For years, Uncle Sam often winked at it. Then, customs started cracking down, but next week, the department of homeland security will start letting you get your prescription medicines, mail order, from Canada.

Could it be that we're a month away from electing a new congress? Or that Wal-Mart's starting to sell generic meds for cheap in Florida, first and maybe all over the country, eventually.

Whether it's both, or neither, price isn't the only cost to consider when you order across the border.

"Right now, I don't take any medication if any," Kia Royal-Barrett walks a tough line.

Her health's a lot better than her insurance or her income.

"There has been medication prescribed for me this year, which I could not afford and I could not get," she says.

Starting next Monday, Uncle Sam will let her get it mail order, from Canadian pharmacies, where many American meds are a quarter to two thirds cheaper than here in the states.

You'll be able buy up to a three months supply, provided your doctor writes the scrip.

The FDA, rather than customs will resume policing such sales.

"I'm sure it'll be the pharmacies that'll be impacted by it the most," says pharmacist Hank Peck.

Long's Pharmacy in Bearden has survived and thrived against big-name, low price competition, by keeping the customers close and the service personal.

"People like to be able to know the people they deal with, and they like to know the people they would not, and how can you make that choice with somebody you don't know?" says Peck.

The FDA bears him out.

Two months ago, it warned folks not to through Canadian websites connected to Mediplan Global Health and Mediplan Prescription Plus after finding fake, or diluted prescriptions for everything from cholesterol controllers, to blood pressure meds, to treatments for baldness.

"If they can produce medicine that is very expensive, and can be gotten less expensive, and is equally efficient, go get it, wherever it's available," says Herman Sain.

The key words, there, Herman Sain says, are equally efficient.

Kia believes, the extra savings are worth doing a little extra homework. "You have to have medication you can afford, and you have to have medication you can get.

Though the FDA will take over policing mail-order meds, it hasn't said exactly how it'll do it.

That's why you and your doctor need to be on a first-name basis.

Doctors talk, many of them know of these Canadian pharmacy houses.

They also know about drug company samples and special programs to get your medicine more cheaply, or even for free.