The marketing of illegal medicines on the Internet, an issue of public health

The offering and marketing of medical products online should be addressed as an issue of public health. This was one of the messages delivered at the workshop Medicines on the net – risks and benefits, organised by the Council of Europe on 16 November at the Internet Governance Forum.

Some of the conclusions were that the liberty to choose freely from the offers on the Internet requires well informed citizens, and that legal offers of pharmaceutical services through the Internet require international regulation to become safe and effective. With regard to prescription medicines, no dispensation should be possible without a prior face to face contact with a physician providing it.

The Council of Europe is preparing a convention against counterfeiting of medical products and similar crimes, including those sold online, which will be open for states beyond Europe and is expected to be opened for signature in 2010.