Press Release

Minister Lynch announces New EU internet logo and rules for online supply of medicines

Kathleen Lynch T.D. Minister for Primary Care and Social Care announced the introduction of a new EU logo to signify the legitimacy of a website. Members of the public are advised to look for the logo which will appear on websites of all registered EU pharmacies and medicines retailers. Members of the public are strongly advised not to purchase medicines from an internet site which does not have the EU internet logo.

Introducing the logo, Minister Lynch said “Falsified (fake) medicines are a significant health risk to patients. 10.1million counterfeit and illicit pills were confiscated in 10 days in June 2013.  50% of the medicine sold by unregulated online retailers is estimated by the World Health Organisation to be unreliable and potentially harmful. Often the fake medicine doesn’t contain the active ingredient that is needed to make the medicine work, or it contains the wrong dose. The substances that are used to bulk up the medicine can also be harmful.”

To tackle the growing problem of fake medicines the EU adopted the Falsified Medicines Directive in 2011. The objective of the Directive is to strengthen the EU legal framework which regulates medicines to prevent falsified medicines being supplied to patients through the legal supply chain.

One of the features of the Directive was the introduction of EU wide controls on supply of medicines by the internet. In Ireland these controls apply to pharmacies/retailers involved in the internet supply of non-prescription medicines. The internet supply of prescription medicines will continue to remain prohibited in Ireland on grounds of public health protection.

With effect from 24 June 2015, all legally-operating pharmacies/retailers established in the EU will display the new EU internet logo. Members of the public should click the logo to ensure that the website is registered on one of the national lists of legally-operating pharmacies/retailers. This will ensure that the non-prescription medicines you purchase are safe and effective.

To stay safe when buying from a website, first look for the logo.  Do not continue if the website does not contain the logo.

Secondly click on the logo which will take you to the website of the national regulatory authority corresponding to the flag displayed on the logo. The flag corresponds to the country where the pharmacy/retailer is established. Once there, check that the pharmacy/retailer is listed. Then continue with your purchase.

In Ireland the Pharmaceutical Society of Ireland is the body responsible for maintaining the list of Irish registered retailers. However Irish consumers may also purchase non-prescription medicines from a website registered in another EU member state. The important thing is to check that the pharmacy/retailer is registered in the member state in question before making a purchase.

Fake medicines can be ineffective at best and deadly at worst. The only way to be sure that the medicines you buy online are safe and effective is to take these three steps:

CLICK THE LOGO, CHECK THE LIST, THEN CONTINUE.

“Fake medicines are a significant problem. While it might be tempting to buy medicines on-line consumers have no way of knowing if the medicines are safe or if they will work properly. Many internet sites that supply medicines hide their true identity and location to deceive people. Criminals are often behind the operation of these websites.  The introduction of the EU logo means that consumers will now be able to purchase their medicines from sites which are registered and operating legally within the EU and where they are guaranteed that the medicines are genuine”.
Notes for Editors

The attached are communications materials prepared by the EU Commission to publicise the dangers of fake medicines and the introduction of the logo.

  1. Leaflet – How to Use the Logo
  2. Poster