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Medicines on the internet

Updated 12 June 2012

Every year, Danes buy medicines for billions. Increasingly more of these medicines are purchased online.

There are a number of conditions to be aware of when shopping online, especially when it comes to medicines. We have gathered a handful of tips that makes it a little easier to comprehend online shopping.

Choose your online retailer carefully

Pharmacies selling medicines online

If you wish to buy a medicine online, you must find an online retailer. For instance, you can choose one of the many pharmacies in Denmark that sell medicine online. On our website, you can find a list of Danish pharmacies selling medicines online.

Shops selling medicines online

Many shops sell medicines on the internet. See our "list of Danish shops selling medicines online". The list is updated regularly.

But you can find many other vendors of medicine on the internet. It is important to find a serious and reliable online retailer, but it is not necessarily easy. Here are a few questions, you can ask yourself when assessing an online retailer:

  • Is it apparent who is behind the website and the information, products and services offered?
  • If the website contains advertisements, are they then separated from the information?
  • Has the website been updated recently?

Moreover, there are some signs that should make you suspicious:

  • When promises of health and recovery are too good to be true
  • When there are long lists of various diseases that a single medicine can cure
  • When the medicine can only be purchased at that specific retailer or only for a limited period

Insist on information about the medicine

As a customer, you are entitled to precise information on the medicine you are considering to buy. If you do not receive adequate information about the medicine, you should find a more serious retailer.

Adequate and factual information will include details about, e.g.:

  • Name of the medicine
  • Active substances
  • Therapeutic indications (what the medicine is used for)
  • When the medicine must not be used (e.g. during pregnancy or concurrently with other medicines)
  • Dosage
  • Any possible side effects
  • The manufacturer's name and address

Only buy authorised medicines

In Denmark and other European countries, medicines must be authorised by the health authorities before it is permitted to sell them to consumers. If you have doubts, ask the retailer whether the medicine is authorised, and if yes: In which countries?

If the retailer does not know whether the medicine is authorised or refuses to answer, something is very wrong.

What about reimbursement?

If you buy medicines in Denmark, you receive reimbursement from the Danish National Health Services, and if you have a private insurance, perhaps also from there.

But if you buy medicines outside Denmark, you will not receive reimbursement from the Danish National Health Services, and usually not from private insurances either. Therefore, you must be prepared to pay the full price of the medicine.

What about the package leaflet?

When you buy medicines in Denmark, the package and package leaflet are in Danish. The package leaflet includes important information about the medicine, e.g. effect and side effects, warnings, storage instructions, specific precautions that you should pay attention to etc.

When you buy a medicine outside Denmark, you should ensure that you receive a package leaflet in a familiar language.

Beware of name confusion

Medicines often have different names in different countries. Therefore, you cannot be sure that the packages contain the same even though the names may sound very alike.

If you are unsure about a specific medicine, then ask an acquaintance who knows about medicines, ask the pharmacy, or try to compare the active substances with a medicine you know.

Avoid counterfeit medicines

Anything can be counterfeited, including medicines. If you buy medicines online, you will often not know who the retailer is. It is also difficult to determine whether the retailer is subject to any type of regulatory control in the country where the retailer is established.

This means that there is a risk that your purchase is not what you think it is. In best case, the medicine is ineffective. In worst case, it is outright damaging.

Will you receive compensation?

Medicines are supposed to prevent, relieve or cure diseases. Yet sometimes, it occurs that a medicine does harm. Money cannot change this, but compensation for personal damage may ease the situation a little.

When you buy a medicine from a Danish pharmacy or other authorised retailer in Denmark, you are automatically covered by an insurance for pharmaceutical injuries. If you have bought a medicine outside Denmark, you cannot be sure to receive compensation. Even the 'money back guaranty' can easily be broken by the online retailer.

Are you purchasing illegally?

You must also be aware that there are rules restricting the possibility for private individuals to receive medicines dispatched from foreign countries, i.e. including medicines purchased online.

It is illegal to receive medicines purchased or dispatched from a country outside the EU/EEA, see map. Moreover, it is only permitted to import medicines that are purchased legally and for personal use.

It is also illegal to receive medicines containing euphoriant substances or doping agents.

If you are unsure about a specific medicine, please ask the Danish Health and Medicines Authorit.