10263 - Prescription Drugs: Internet (Answered)

Jim Shannon
To ask the Secretary of State for Health, what steps he is taking to (a) reduce and (b) monitor the sale of prescription drugs on the internet.

George Freeman

In the United Kingdom, all categories of medicines may be traded online legally but in the case of prescription only medicines (POM) and pharmacy (P) medicines, these may only be sold or supplied to the public through registered pharmacy premises (by or under the supervision of a pharmacist). Additionally, POMs may only be supplied in response to a prescription from an authorised healthcare professional.

A UK registered pharmacy may have a presence on the internet; however the requirements of legislation apply equally to both UK internet pharmacies and bricks-and-mortar premises.

The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) monitors the internet for websites operating outside legal requirements and, in collaboration with Internet Service Providers, takes steps to close down sites both in the UK and abroad. The MHRA has closed down 1,973 websites (including those based overseas) during 2015 alone and brought into compliance many others.

The illegal sale and supply of medicines via Internet poses considerable risks to UK patients but this is in essence a global problem and the MHRA is working with other regulators, law enforcement authorities and Government Departments within the UK, European Union and elsewhere to address the complex issues involved.