Attention fake stores: Consumer advocates warn against buying medicines

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Beware of counterfeit goods and potential health hazards: Consumer advocates issue an urgent warning against buying medicines online.
Online pharmacies are booming
In doing so, one not only runs considerable health risks, but may even be liable to prosecution, the European Consumer Centre (ECC) said on Monday. This has together with the Federal Office for Safety in Health Care (BASG), the Austrian Chamber of Pharmacists and the customs authority now important information on the subject of online drug purchases together.

Pharmacies and medicines: what is allowed in Austria
In Austria, only pharmacies based in Austria or the European Economic Area are allowed to sell medicines over the Internet. Only over-the-counter medicines within the scope of personal needs may be ordered. Purchasing via pharmacies in third countries such as the USA or China is prohibited.

“The distinction between reputable and dubious providers is not always easy at first glance,” warns ECC lawyer Elisabeth Barth in a statement. “We see most problems with fake stores, which often give themselves a reputable veneer as an ‘Internet pharmacy.’ These either do not deliver the ordered goods at all or – even worse – they are fake and possibly contain problematic active ingredients.”

Warnings: Characteristics of fake stores
Texts written in poor German or English, formulations such as “available without prescription” or “100% effectiveness guarantee”, delivery only against prepayment or an incomplete imprint without contact options are indications that an online provider is a fake store. It is also useful to look for testimonials or warnings from consumer organizations.

Problems with the authorities loom
In addition, there is also the threat of problems with the authorities, according to the expert: “The customs authorities have the possibility of checking prescription or illegal medicines imported from abroad and can confiscate and destroy them. The cost of the effort is always borne by the purchaser. Furthermore, in the event of a repeat offence, additional administrative fines of up to 7,260 euros may be imposed. For these reasons, we advise people to always be particularly careful when ordering medicines online.” In the previous year, around 350,000 counterfeit and other illegal medicines were seized by Austrian customs – almost a record.

  • source: vienna.at/picture:pixabay.com
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