Online pharmacies have been eventually regulated in Italy, and this represents a major step forward for eCommerce in Italy especially after the negative court precedents of last years.
Trust has always been a relevant value in the relationship between patients and doctors and traditionally such trust was the result of face-to-face appointments. However, the growth of eHealth and telemedicine and its massive potentials make meaningless the need of restricting online pharmacies.
Italy was one of the most conservative countries when it comes to online pharmacies and companies attempting to offer their products online had been even recently sanctioned for misleading advertising practices. But such time is fortunately over.
This is a guest post from my colleague Giulia Zappaterra on online pharmacies that is becoming a very hot topic at the moment!
Online Pharmacy eventually in Italy!
Italy implemented the Directive 2011/62/EU establishing a legal framework for the licensing, manufacturing and distribution of medicines, allowing only licensed pharmacies and approved retailers to offer medicines for sale.
In order to do so, licensed pharmacies and approved retailers shall notify to the competent authority, among others, with the following information:
- name of the entity, VAT number and address of the place from where the medicines are supplied,
- the starting date of the activity of offering the medicines for sale at a distance and
- the address of the website used for the sale and the relevant information necessary to identify the website.
What information shall be provided to consumers?
In addition to the general information required under general eCommerce and consumer protection law, patients shall be provided among others with
- the contact details of the competent national authority (i.e. AIFA),
- a link to the Health Ministry website,
- as well as a so called “common logo” (that you can see here below).
The logo will allow consumers to easily identify authorized online pharmacies and approved retailers providing authentic medicines. Clicking on the logo consumers will be redirected to the AIFA website where all legally operating online pharmacies and approved retailers will be listed.
What future for online pharmacies in Italy?
The recent regulatory developments are surely in line with the development of the whole eCommerce sector of the last years, and it will be interesting to see the volume of over-the-counter medicines that will be actually sold online. No doubt, a constant monitoring activity of the e-pharmacies websites can be expected by both AIFA and the Health Ministry, also in order to verify the compliance with the applicable law and to control whether the implemented solution will reduce the number of falsified medicines sold online. Indeed, even if online pharmacies are now allowed in Italy, the applicable regime remains quite restrictive!