Are Online Pharmacies Legal?

The community pharmacy

Community pharmacies appeared with the purpose of assisting the population with medication dispensing, evaluation of interactions between different medications, prescription evaluation and specific healthcare advice.
Community pharmacists are the healthcare professionals most accessible to the public. They supply medicines in accordance with a prescription or, recommend different medications, medical devices or nutraceuticals without prescription (over the counter, or OTC).
In addition to ensuring the accurate supply of prescribed medications, their professional activities also cover counselling of patients at the time of dispensing of prescription and non-prescription drugs, drug information to health professionals, patients and the public, and participation in continuous health-promotion programmes. Pharmacists are part of the primary health care line, together with other healthcare professionals.

A pharmacist’s role also implies knowledge of newly approved drugs and their interactions with other substances. Nowadays, a wide range of drugs are approved by the European Medicines Agency (both originals and generics).
A pharmacist must be familiar with the heterogeneous group of medical devices, which includes some products analogous to medicines, some of which demand special knowledge with regard to their uses and risks (e.g., dressings, wound management products, etc.).
The pharmacist is responsible for ensuring that the quality of the products they supply to the public is maintained and that anytime, any medicine that is distributed to the population can be found. That means that they verify each product before releasing it from the pharmacy and maintain a chain of product information that allows the tracking of any medicine, at any time.

The main responsibilities of community pharmacists are the following:

  • Processing of prescriptions
    The pharmacist verifies the prescription from the legal point of view, ensuring that the dose and posology are appropriate for the patient and checks the patient medication record before dispensing the prescription (when such records are kept in the pharmacy). In some cases, the community pharmacist is in a unique position to be fully aware of the patient’s past and current drug history and, consequently, can provide essential advice to him or her.
  • Care of patients or clinical pharmacy
    The pharmacist advises the patient about the use of drugs, the potential risks and side effects. He or she offers dosage advice and discusses the most appropriate form of medication.
  • Monitoring patient evolution
    The pharmacist is in close collaboration with doctors and therapists regarding the patient regimen and ensures quality pharmaceutical services.


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The internet pharmacy

The internet pharmacy is the place to be when you are in a hurry, when you are looking for a fast and simple medical service, when you already know what you want to order, and you know also the dose. The internet pharmacy circuit is the fastest circuit for some people to have their drugs at the door.
We all know that today’s health consumer is very demanding. Whether its needs are for prescription services, personal care products, or clinical services, the priority is on expertise, convenience, and accessibility. When having a health problem, getting the urgent care that you need it is universally important.
Thus, saving time and effort is desired when interacting with the healthcare professional, but at the same time accessing good medical and pharmaceutical services.
It is known that most people facing acute health issues, prefer to address a pharmacist, instead of a medical doctor. Also, it was concluded that having a detailed discussion with a pharmacist often takes a lot of the general practitioner’s burden and generates more patient satisfaction.

Nowadays, internet pharmacies have expanded thanks to the advancement of science and technology.
Internet pharmacies can help you deal with your health problem and you can access online pharmaceutical products and medical services.
The main idea is that the pharmacy is accredited by the same Health Authority that gives the accreditation to the community pharmacy. Registered pharmacists and doctors are employed to assist the consumer.
In April 2015, the General Pharmaceutical Council released the Guidance for registered pharmacies providing pharmacy services at a distance, including on the internet.
The objective was to meet the needs of patients and people who use pharmacy services.
The correct term for an ‘internet pharmacy’ is, in fact, a ‘distance-selling’ pharmacy.
The term ‘distance-selling’ refers to the fact that there is no direct contact between patients and the pharmacy staff for the delivery of pharmaceutical services.
Patients are allowed to access the pharmacy but only for non-essential services.
All online pharmacies in the United Kingdom need to be registered in the same way as a regular pharmacy, with the General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) and to meet all the same standards as community pharmacies.
The pharmacist here has the same roles, as described for the community pharmacist.
The pharmacist can check your regular prescription, you can order your prescription medicines, or you can access a consultation with a physician and get a prescription and the required medicinal products.

Similarities between the community pharmacy and the internet pharmacy

The basic services are practically the same.
The e-commerce has gained popularity among the population. Just think of one product and imagine that you can avoid going to the pharmacy, avoid the crowd, just using a mobile device with an app or browser. And the prices are similar and sometimes even cheaper than the ones you find at the pharmacy. There is no need for a traditional pharmacy, no standing in line to pay for the products. It improves efficiency and is one of the fastest growing industries in the world.

Differences between the community pharmacy and the internet pharmacy

One difference between the community pharmacy and the internet pharmacy is the lack of direct contact between the patient and the healthcare professional.
If you are in the mood for a long, personal talk, the community pharmacy is the place to be.
But if you are looking for a fast service, but with the same quality, then the internet pharmacy is a perfect choice.
The pharmacist will perform an evaluation of your prescription in any of the cases.
Same standards, same principles.
The online pharmacies respect the same standards and the same principles as traditional pharmacies.
Online pharmacies have also implemented continuous processes of quality control and services improvement.
The sale and supply of medicines happen from on online registered pharmacy and under the supervision of pharmacists.

The five principles that must be followed by both the internet and the community pharmacy are:

The governance arrangements safeguard the health, safety and wellbeing of patients and the public.
In other words, accessing the services of a registered online pharmacy guarantees safe outcomes for patients and people who use these services.
Staff are empowered and competent to safeguard the health, safety and wellbeing of patients and the public.
Pharmacy owners and superintendent pharmacists make sure that all staff involved in providing pharmacy services at a distance – including on the internet – are familiar with the General Pharmaceutical Council-Guidance for registered pharmacies providing pharmacy services at a distance, including on the internet.
All staff have a responsibility to provide medicines safely to patients and to only do work they are competent to do.
The environment and condition of the premises from which pharmacy services are provided, and any associated premises, safeguard the health, safety and wellbeing of patients and the public.
In other words, the website is secured and follows all information related to security management and the law on data protection. This is particularly important when patients give personal details. Mens Pharmacy, for example, has secure facilities for collecting, using and storing patient details and a secure link for processing card payments.

With regards to this principle, Mens Pharmacy covered all the information requested by the Competent Authority and facilitated the easy check by displaying prominently on our website:

  • the GPhC pharmacy registration number,
  • owner of the pharmacy, name and GPhC number
  • the name and address of the registered pharmacy that supplies the medicines,
  • the email address and phone number of the pharmacy,
  • details of how our patients and users of pharmacy services can give feedback and raise concern.

The way in which pharmacy services, including the management of medicines and medical devices, are delivered safeguards the health, safety and wellbeing of patients and the public.
That means that you have the right to make decisions about care and medicines you are receiving, and the services you want to receive in the future. The pharmacist will provide you with complete information with regards to your need, so you can make an informed decision about your medicines and the pharmacy services you will use.
You will receive clear information related to your medicines and you will receive information on how you can contact your pharmacy staff if you have any problems or need more advice. This includes advice on when you should go back to the doctor or pharmacist.
The equipment and facilities used in the provision of pharmacy services safeguard the health, safety and wellbeing of patients and the public.
With respect to this principle, Mens Pharmacy uses IT equipment that meets the latest security specifications. The security of data is protected.
Also, all our facilities and equipment are specifically designed for the intended purpose and are of high specification, accuracy and security.



How can one check an internet pharmacy?

It is advisable to do some preliminary checks before choosing an internet pharmacy and especially before paying for the products.
There are thousands of sites that sell a wide range of both nutritional products and pharmaceutical products, illegally.
There are some scams targeting online consumers that you need to be aware of. Here are some suggestions for avoiding scams:
Beware of so-called “Black-market” products.
So-called black-market goods may be either illegal in the UK or unintended for the UK market. You may get something that doesn’t have any active substance or something counterfeited.
Be sceptical and read any extended service contract with the retailer
The services offered by the retailer can be overpriced and generally are not of a good value.
Verify the additional shipping charges. There are lots of cases when a retailer tried to squeeze a profit from heavily discounted items from an extremely high shipping rate
Be sure to have the pharmacy or the manufacturer’s warranty of the product quality.
Consider speaking with a consumer protection lawyer if you are unable to resolve one or more problems with online shopping.
If you are willing to obtain medicines from an online pharmacy, you must check first if the website is legitimately registered by looking for the GPhC voluntary logo and the mandatory EU common logo.
You must click on each logo which should take you through to that pharmacy’s entry on the GPhC register and the MHRA register.

Should I make any other checks?

For further assurance that medicines will be supplied by a pharmacy registered with the GPhC, it is advisable that you:

  • Locate the name and address of the pharmacy operating the website,
  • Check the pharmacist and pharmacy are registered by searching the online register for pharmacists and pharmacies,
  • Check if the prescribing doctor is also registered,
  • Avoid websites which offer to supply prescription-only medicines without a prescription,
  • Be aware that registered pharmacies are required to check that a medicine is suitable for a patient before selling it,
  • Also, you should be asked to provide information about your health before a purchase.

It is advisable not to take prescription medicines from unknown sources. Prescription medicines must be bought from a pharmacy most of all because there is a high rate of counterfeiting among reported by the pharma industry.

The price promises

We offer the best prices for UK sourced and prescribed medicines, providing the best medicines, customer service, and prices.

The delivery service

You can place an order with Mens Pharmacy 24/7 and Orders are processed quickly. All orders received before 3:45 PM (Monday to Friday) will be posted via Royal Mail within the same day, subject to our Doctor not needing any further medical information. The delivery is free.
Please note that we are closed on weekends and bank holidays. Orders received out of hours will be processed on the first following working day.
Our policy for placing the orders is to have a non-branded packaging for your peace of mind. For your credit card statement, we will record ‘GPT Services’ for your privacy and we are also able to post medicines to an alternative address (for instance the address of your office). Please note, however, that we are unable to post medicines to third parties- we must ensure that the patient ordering the medicine is the person who receives it.

Healthcare professionals

We provide the best medicines, customer service, and prices.
Among our assisting personnel are our GMC Registered Doctor Dr Roisin McHugh and Clinical Lead, Laura Jones.

Store and administer your medicines as indicated in the patient leaflet. Keep out of the reach of children.
We are here to assist you, should you have any questions.
Our contact details are [email protected] or [email protected], or by telephone number at 0161 707 6800.


Are Online Pharmacies Legal?

All in all, online pharmacies are legal in the UK, however, there are many fraudulent pharmacies claiming to be operating legitimately but using these sites carries a high risk of card fraud, or receiving counterfeit medication. The best course of action is to be vigilant when shopping for medication online.


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  1. Essential Medicines and Health Products Information Portal- A World Health Organization resource
  4. General Pharmaceutical Council- Standards for registered pharmacies
  5. General Pharmaceutical Council-Guidance for registered pharmacies providing pharmacy services at a distance, including on the internet