What medicines you can get from an online pharmacy and how to fill a prescription. How safe are mail-order pharmacies? When is a local pharmacy a better option? This is what you should know.
If you want to order your medicines on the internet, you should have a little time and not need them acutely. Shipping takes a few days. If you need something over-the-counter quickly, for example for a cold, your local pharmacy is the right place to go. And also if you appreciate personal advice. The website Gesundheit-Service will help you compare online pharmacies and different medicines.
Some online pharmacies are allowed to grant discounts
If you have to take expensive medicines all the time or are chronically ill, it may be worthwhile to order from online pharmacies.
Background: Mail-order pharmacies from other EU countries are allowed to grant discounts on prescription medicines to German customers because the European Court of Justice (ECJ) has declared the price fixing that exists in Germany to be illegal. This does not apply to German pharmacies, which must continue to adhere to the fixed prices. This affects both on-site pharmacies and mail-order pharmacies based in Germany.
Those who are embarrassed to order medicines, for example against genital fungus, at a retail pharmacy will appreciate the anonymity of internet ordering. Patients who live in rural areas can save themselves long distances to the nearest pharmacy by ordering from a mail-order pharmacy.
Redeeming a prescription at a mail-order pharmacy – how safe are online pharmacies?
In Germany, prescription medicines can only be obtained with the original prescription – what applies to the local pharmacy also applies to mail-order pharmacies. Scans, copies or faxes are not legally admissible.
For some pharmacy-only medicines, there is a dispensing restriction of, for example, a maximum of three packs.
Most internet pharmacies pay the postage if you send your prescription there and cash it. You usually only have to print out a postage-paid envelope or an address label, send the whole thing by post and then get your medicines by post within a few days.
What medicines can I order from the online pharmacy and how safely?
You can now get a lot of medicines online. Prescription drugs are also available with an original prescription. Some mail-order pharmacies are not allowed to accept T-prescriptions, which are special prescriptions for medicines with the active ingredients lenalidomide, pomalidomide and thalidomide. And no narcotic prescriptions, so-called BTM prescriptions.
Which online pharmacies are safe and reputable?
Reputable online pharmacies have an imprint with a postal address, owner and competent supervisory authority. And there is a hotline on the website for advice and enquiries. Mail-order pharmacies are obliged to provide advice to the same extent as local pharmacies.
Simple test of how safe online pharmacies are
The German Institute for Medical Documentation and Information (DIMDI) has a publicly accessible database of all mail-order pharmacies with official permission.
The EU safety logo – a white cross on a green-striped background and the text “Click here to check the legality of this website” – leads to the trader’s entry in the mail-order register. You can easily check it by clicking on it.
Online pharmacies abroad – how safe are they?
Medicines may only be sent to Germany from certain countries – these are: Iceland, the Netherlands (if a retail pharmacy exists at the same time), Sweden (only applies to prescription medicines), Czech Republic (only applies to non-prescription medicines). Great Britain is out after Brexit: Until 2020, the United Kingdom was also on this list of countries. After Brexit takes effect, however, mail-order sales of medicines from there to Germany will no longer be permitted.
Online pharmacies – extremely low prices dubious
Can you get prescription drugs from an Internet pharmacy without a prescription? Beware! This can’t be true and indicates that the provider is not trustworthy. Or the prices are extremely far below what is usual on the market? Very likely not a reputable trader.
Online pharmacy tips
When ordering, inform the mail-order pharmacy exactly which medicines you are taking at the same time as the preparation you are ordering. This helps the online pharmacists to recognise interactions between the preparations and to warn you.
Give them your telephone number – this will make it easier for them to reach you if they have any questions or need information.
If you have your own questions: call the hotline of the mail-order pharmacy.
Pay attention to the amount of the shipping costs – with many providers, delivery is free above a certain minimum order value.