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Online access to medicines: lessons learnt for self-care

6 April 2021

Online delivery of goods became very common nowadays, and even increased during COVID-19 pandemic and related lockdowns. The way consumers obtain medicines, as special type of goods, is also changing. In some countries, buying medicines online is becoming common practice, because buyers are preferring to order their medicines through a click of a button rather than taking a trip to a pharmacy or a drug store. However, online customers may have difficulty knowing whether an Internet pharmacy is a legitimate operation, without the same confidence as they would have had in the neighborhood pharmacy. What are the practices in place to make sure that the online patient or customer can rely that they will receive the medicine they need? What are the advantages and disadvantages to accessing medicines on-line from patients, as well as from pharmacists’ point of view? Since medicines are regulated products and the need for consideration of ethical issues in access to medicines is important, the online pharmacy services have both advantages and disadvantages. What are the medicines patients are allowed to receive online in different countries? What is the scope of online pharmaceutical services vis-à-vis medicine procurement, distribution, online prescriptions, internet drug information, pharmaceutical care services, etc.?

- Sari Westermarck, Owner-Proprietary pharmacist, Vihti 1. Pharmacy - Finland

- Manjiri Gharat, FIP Vice-President, FIP - India
- Filipa Alves da Costa, Assistant Professor, University of Lisbon - Portugal
- John Hertig, Board President Alliance for Safe Online Pharmacies - USA