New measures governing online medicine sales

July 1st 2015

From today, people buying medicines online from UK companies will have additional protection from buying unlicensed drugs.

For more information on the dangers of buying and using unlicensed drugs, click here

This is because anybody in the UK selling medicines online to the general public needs to be registered with the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) and to be on the regulator’s list of UK registered online retail sellers.

They also need to display on every page of their website offering medicines for sale, the new European common logo (shown here) which is registered to the seller.

The registered EU common logo will contain a hyperlink to their entry in the MHRA’s list of registered online sellers.

Anybody buying medicines online can check if the website is legitimately registered and will be able to click on the logo which will take them through to a list of approved sellers.

If the registered person retails a medicine through a third-party market place website, then the third-party market place service provider must display that registered person’s EU Common Logo on every page of their website that offers the registered person’s medicine for sale to the public from that service provider’s site.

This is a different scheme to the voluntary logo run by the General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) or Pharmaceutical Society Northern Ireland (PSNI). The EU common logo is a legal requirement across Europe whilst the GPhC/ PSNI run a voluntary logo scheme which is applicable only to registered pharmacies.

Under the rules of the new scheme the medicine being offered online must be licensed in the member state where the member of public who buys the medicine is based.

The person selling the medicine must be legally entitled to sell medicine to the public in accordance with UK medicines legislation.

Registered pharmacies can sell general sales list medicine, pharmacy medicine or supply prescription-only medicine that they have dispensed against a prescription. All other general retailers can only sell general sales list products.

The penalty for selling medicines online without being registered and not displaying the logo is up to 2 years in prison or a fine or both.

Lynda Scammell, MHRA Senior Policy Advisor, said: “The new logo scheme should provide people buying medicines online with the reassurance that they are buying from a legitimate site. People will be able to click through to a list of registered sellers so they know the site is properly registered.”

Ms Scammell continued: “Buying from an unregistered site could mean you do not know what medicines you are getting, and you could even be damaging your health.”

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