Risks of buying medicines over the internet

It is important to take great care when buying medicines online, particularly if the medicine is only available from a pharmacy. If you buy medicines online, you may be putting yourself at serious risk of harm.

Buying medicines over the internet

Many websites selling medicines online originate from outside the UK and are not regulated by UK authorities. Buying prescription-only medicines from unauthorised sources significantly increases the risk of getting substandard or fake medicines.

If you get medicines without consulting a suitable healthcare professional, you risk being supplied with medicines that isn't safe or is unsuitable for you to take.

Medicines bought online may not meet UK regulatory and quality standards.

Registered to sell medicines online

If you want to sell medicines online in the UK, you must: 

  • be registered with the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA)
  • on the MHRA’s list of UK registered online retail sellers
  • display the European common logo on every page of your website

The registered EU common logo must link to your entry in the MHRA’s list of registered online sellers.

For more information on the logo, go to:

Prescription-only medicines

Prescription-only medicines should only be taken in consultation with a healthcare professional. This is particularly important when you use different medicines at the same time, because interactions between medicines may cause side effects.

If you buy prescription-only medicines over the internet:

  • they may not have been prescribed by a healthcare professional
  • there may not be checks and controls on the quality and effectiveness of medicines supplied
  • there may be no legal recourse if a problem occurs

If you buy medicine from an unregulated website, you don’t know what you are taking. You don't know what effect these drugs could have on your health.

For more information on the risks of buying medicine online, go to:

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