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New safeguards to protect people trying to obtain medicines online

19 July 2018

We are proposing that online pharmacies will have to put in place new safeguards to protect people who want to obtain medicines online.

We have published a discussion paper which sets out how we plan to strengthen our guidance for the owners of online pharmacies based in Great Britain to help make sure people can obtain medicines safely and effectively online. We want to hear your views on these proposals.

Duncan explains in his blog why we have published the discussion paper now and provides further details of what we are proposing and the next steps.

We propose in the paper that there are certain categories of medicines that may not be suitable to be prescribed and supplied online unless further action is taken to make sure that they are clinically appropriate for the patient, such as contacting the patient’s GP. These medicines include opiates/sedatives, antibiotics, medicines for chronic conditions (including asthma and diabetes) and non-surgical cosmetic medicinal products (such as Botox). 

The discussion paper also seeks views about whether it is appropriate for pharmacy websites to allow patients to choose a prescription-only medicine, and its quantity, before having a consultation with a prescriber. 

We also raise concerns in the paper about potential additional risks to patients if pharmacy owners decide to work with prescribers or prescribing services operating outside the UK, and suggest additional safeguards that would need to be put in place.

Please let us your views on our proposals- complete our survey now.  The discussion will close on 21 August 2018.

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