New EU regulations governing the sale of medicines online come into force in the UK on 1 July 2015.
From that date, online medicines retailers based in the UK will have to be registered with the UK medicines safety watchdog — the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) — and display the official EU common logo that confirms the seller is registered. The logo has to be displayed on every page of the website and will automatically link to the MHRA registered entry confirming the site is legitimate.
If the registered website sells a product through a third-party website then the third-party site must also display the appropriate EU logo.
Under the changes, the medicines being offered online must be licensed in the member state where the customer is based.
Anyone failing to adhere to the new regulations faces two years in prison or a fine or both.
The changes reflect an EU-wide clampdown on counterfeit drugs and are underpinned by the falsified medicines directive (2011/62/EU).
The EU logo, revealed in June 2014, will provide people buying medicines online “with reassurance that they are buying from a legitimate site” and one that is registered, says MHRA senior policy advisor Lynda Scammell.
The scheme is in addition to the voluntary logo initiative for online pharmacies run and managed by Britain’s pharmacy regulator the General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC). The GPhC says it will now review its voluntary logo scheme.