Further to the Legislative Decree No. 17/2014 implementing the Directive 2011/62/EU, consumers will shortly (from July 1st) be able to buy over-the-counter drugs online.

Italy has an established restrictive legal framework for the licensing, manufacturing and distribution of medicines, allowing only licensed pharmacies and approved retailers to offer medicines for sale. The implementation of the EU Directive, particularly aimed at preventing falsified medicines entering the legal supply chain, finally introduces the possibility for the licensed pharmacies and approved retailers to sale medicines – but for the ones not requiring prescriptions – also at a distance.

In order to do so, licensed pharmacies and approved retailers shall notify to the competent authority, at least, the following information: (i) name of the entity, VAT number and address of the place from where the medicines are supplied, (ii) the starting date of the activity of offering the medicines for sale at a distance, (iii) the address of the website used for the sale and the relevant information necessary to identify the website.

Also, in addition to the informative requirements as per distance sale provisions (e.g. the Consumer Code), patients shall also be provided with further details, for instance, the contact details of the competent national authority (i.e. AIFA), a link to the Health Ministry wesbsite, as well as a so called “common logo” (that you can see here below).

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The logo will allow consumers to easily identify authorized online pharmacies and approved retailers providing authentic medicines. Clicking on the logo the consumer will be redirected to the AIFA website where all legally operating online pharmacies and approved retailers will be listed.

The Legislative Decree (and the EU Directive) are surely in line with the e-commerce development of the last years, and it will be interesting to see how many over-the-counter medicines 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.