How to avoid the Irish pharmacy gouge by buying from drugstore.com

For the past few years I have been buying a variety of pharmacy products from drugstore.com in the US. Don’t worry, they’re part of Amazon, not some dodgy crowd flogging fake horse tranquillizers.

There are two reasons I’ve been doing this. The first is that I use a miracle stomach drug called Omeprazole which solved over 20 years of chronic stomach problems when I finally discovered it (and other PPIs like Nexium). Getting the branded versions via prescription here would cost an arm and a leg but it is available as a non-prescription (i.e. OTC) generic in the US.

The second is the criminal difference between the cost in Ireland of normal NSAIDs like paracetemol/ibuprofen and the cost in the US. How about 500 ibuprofen for $12.99 or 500 paracetemol (acetaminophen) for $11.99? Compared to maybe €2 for 24 generic paracetemol here? Also, it’s 500, not some idiotic packet of 12 that Micheál Martin forced on us during his reign.

Whilst the products were cheap, the shipping and customs really added up so we would buy 6-9 months worth of products at a time and made big savings. Unfortunately drugstore.com decided to stop doing direct international shipping a few months ago which had me very worried. However they did say they were happy to use a third party shipping agency in the US. They recommended one but I decided to go with US Unlocked, with whom I already had an account.

US Unlocked is a great service. I signed up with them to get an online US Credit Card to buys things like Amazon VOD TV shows etc but their core business is providing people with US shipping addresses. The idea is that you have a unique address with them in New Jersey and when you order, you provide that address to the vendor. You can order from multiple vendors and wait until everything arrives there. They notify you of each arrival. Once you are ready, you tell them what you want shipped and they quote you a price via UPS. You pay the fee (normal credit card, PayPal etc) and they ship. Simple.

I did an order recently with drugstore.com and another from Florian Tools who make a superb ratchet pruners that my mother loves. Florian used to have very cheap shipping to Ireland but when I checked recently, the shipping cost more than the product! This is a common issue in the US.

For this order, US Unlocked quoted me $67 to send a few hundred dollars worth of stuff, which I thought was very reasonable. No other fees were involved and all the US-based drugstore.com deliveries were free. It took a week to arrive due to some weird hold-up with UPS in Germany but everything arrived perfectly today.

Note that you may incur customs charges depending on the products, so factor that into your spend. I’d recommend doing a big family order twice a year and share the shipping cost across the family.

I’m really thrilled how well it worked out. Big thumbs up for both drugstore.com and US Unlocked.

 

Conor O'Neill

Tech guy who likes running slowly

Bandon, Cork, Ireland http://conoroneill.com