Internet trade in medicines

Finnish online pharmacies a safe channel for buying medicines

In Finland, medicines can also be bought in online pharmacies. Products available include both over-the-counter and prescription-only medicines.

To buy prescription medicines online, you need an electronic prescription. Online pharmacies do not sell prescription medicines without a prescription.

When buying over-the-counter medicines you must be provided with an opportunity to consult a pharmacist for information on the correct and safe use of the product. Professional consultation is always required when buying prescription medicines.

Personal service is available in online pharmacies by telephone or over a web service. Medicines bought in an online pharmacy are non-returnable.

A legal Finnish online pharmacy can be identified by the pan-European logo that acts as a link to a list of legitimate online pharmacies. The list is maintained by the Finnish Medicines Agency Fimea. Legitimate online pharmacies also operate in other EU Member States.

The EU area uses a common logo that enables consumers to identify legitimate online pharmacies. The classification and delivery terms of medicines can vary between Member States.

Counterfeit medicines always involve a risk

Many of the online stores selling medicines are illegal. When you buy medicines on the internet, you run a high risk of being supplied with a fake product instead of a high-quality medicine.

Counterfeit medicines always involve a risk. It is impossible to tell if a medicine is fake or not simply on the basis of visual inspection. Some nutritional supplements sold online that claimed to be of “natural origin” were found to contain medicinal substances.

Illegal online pharmacies on the internet may be very professionally set up. Attempts are made to win consumer trust with photographs of qualified professionals, various logos and certifications, and marketing statements.

Illegal online pharmacies are not interested in your prescriptions or your safety – only your credit card details.

Check the online pharmacy first

If you consider buying medicines on the internet, check the information provided on the website to see who runs the online pharmacy and where it is based.

Legitimate pharmacies always list all their contact details on their website (name, address, country, telephone number and e-mail). If the contact information provided consists only of a vague e-mail address or telephone number, the site is probably illegal.

Legitimate online pharmacies do not sell prescription medicines without a prescription.

You should also study carefully the terms of delivery shown on the website. Illegal online pharmacies offer no consumer protection.

Legitimate web services, such as online pharmacies, can be found within the EU. The common logo helps consumers to identify these. The common logo promotes the safe online sale of medicines.

Be aware of import restrictions – you are personally responsible for your purchases

When you buy medicines in foreign online pharmacies, you must observe the import restrictions on medicines.

Buying and receiving medicines from outside the European Economic Area is prohibited. The importer or buyer of the medicine is solely responsible for any risks involved in illegal medicine trade.

Private individuals may accept medicinal products delivered by post (including express mail and courier deliveries) from the EEA to Finland if the supplier operates legally and the medicinal product has been approved by the authorities of the country in question.

Note:

  • You need a valid prescription to order a prescription medicine. It is illegal to buy e.g. erectile dysfunction drugs or weight loss drugs online without a prescription.
  • No medicinal products containing narcotics or veterinary medicines may be bought or accepted from outside Finland.
  • No more than a three-month supply of medicines may be delivered by post from an EEA Member State.
  • If private individuals wish to order nutritional supplements (so-called natural products), they are required to check in advance that the products in question do not contain any ingredients considered a medicinal substance. It is particularly important to make sure products ordered from outside the European Economic Area (EEA) only contain approved ingredients.

The EEA Member States are Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Great Britain, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain and Sweden.