In times of the Coronavirus, online pharmacies are crucial. But most European countries still don’t allow them.

All across Europe, healthcare professionals and the entire health systems are being tested as more and more patients need care. Governments and epidemiologists are asking large parts of the population to stay at home, social distance, or self-isolate. 

Modern ways of supporting mildly sick and average sick patients are absolutely necessary in order to keep important health infrastructure available for those most in need.

But only seven out of 28 European countries (EU28 including UK) allow patients to order prescription-only medicine online. Only Sweden, Denmark, Finland, the Netherland, the United Kingdom, Estonia, and Germany have legalized the so-called RX online pharmacies. Northern European countries seem to be much better when it comes to allowing patients to order RX medicine online.

Thanks to a European Court of Justice ruling from 2003, all EU countries are obliged to allow the sale of over-the-counter drugs (e.g. Aspirin) online. Switzerland allows online pharmacies to sell prescription drugs but not over-the-counter drugs. So a Swiss will be able to reorder her asthma spray but not get any Paracetamol online.

Policymakers should liberalize these restrictions immediately in order to allow hundreds of millions of Europeans to order medicines without leaving their house. Quick deployment of electronic prescriptions would leverage this liberalization. The United Kingdom allows electronic prescriptions for many ailments. Copying this system among the entire continent would allow patients to purchase antibiotics, asthma sprays, and other drugs they might need to fight off the coronavirus.

The Consumer Choice Center is the consumer advocacy group supporting lifestyle freedom, innovation, privacy, science, and consumer choice. The main policy areas we focus on are digital, mobility, lifestyle & consumer goods, and health & science.

The CCC represents consumers in over 100 countries across the globe. We closely monitor regulatory trends in Ottawa, Washington, Brussels, Geneva and other hotspots of regulation and inform and activate consumers to fight for #ConsumerChoice. Learn more at consumerchoicecenter.org



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