Buying medicines online

Buying medicines, remedies and similar products online is very popular. Whether for drugs prescribed by your GP or another healthcare professional, ‘over-the-counter’ remedies or items like slimming aids and skincare products, buying over the internet offers massive convenience and choice.

Many websites selling such products are perfectly legitimate, but you should always be careful to make sure that this is the case for ones you’re using, and also that that what you’re buying is not only suitable for your needs, but safe to use as well.

If you don’t take these precautions, there are many potential risks – from using medicines that are incompatible with those you’re already taking, to fake products that have no active ingredients or, worse still, contain harmful ingredients that could lead to illness or even fatality. This is in addition to visiting websites that could clone your payment card, misuse your personal information or infect your device with malware.

Purchasing medicines online safely

  • Buy prescription drugs only from sites that you can confirm are UK-based and registered by the General Pharmaceutical Council. The green logo (shown here) can be found on the home page of the online pharmacy’s site – clicking on it should take you to the General Pharmaceutical Council’s Pharmacy Register. The pharmacy’s website should also feature:
    • The name of the owner of the business.The address of the pharmacy at which the business is conducted.
    • The name of the Superintendent Pharmacist, where applicable.
  • You should always consult an appropriate medical professional or registered pharmacist with any questions you have about a medical condition or how to treat it.
  • Do not be tempted into self-diagnosis, even if you have searched for a condition and its symptoms online.
  • For over-the-counter drugs, other remedies and similar products, it is safest to buy only from UK-based websites with a physical address (which you should check for authenticity). Before doing so, read independent reviews. Search the name and supplier of the product online together with keywords such as ‘fake’, ‘counterfeit’ and ‘dangerous’. You could type the website address into our free, easy-to-use tool at

Also, always observe the following precautions:

  • Never reply to, or click on links or attachments contained in, unsolicited or spam emails from companies you don’t recognise.
  • Before entering payment card details on a website, ensure that the link is secure: there should be a padlock symbol in the browser window frame, which appears when you attempt to log in or register, and the web address should begin with ‘https://’ (the ‘s’ stands for ‘secure’). This indicates only that the link between you and the website owner is secure, and not that the site itself is legitimate.
  • Double check all details of your purchase before confirming payment.
  • Remember that paying by credit card offers greater protection than with other methods in terms of fraud, guarantees and non-delivery. Check credit card and bank statements carefully after shopping to ensure that the correct amount has been debited, and also that no fraud has taken place as a result of the transaction.
  • Ensure you have effective and updated antivirus/antispyware software and firewall running before you go online.


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