EMA is urging the general public not to buy medicines from unauthorised websites and other vendors aiming to exploit fears and concerns during the ongoing pandemic of coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

Vendors may claim that their products can treat or prevent COVID-19 or may appear to provide easy access to legitimate medicines that are otherwise not readily available. Such products are likely to be falsified medicines.

Falsified medicines are fake medicines that vendors pass off as real or authorised. They may contain the wrong or no active ingredient or the right ingredient in the wrong amount. They may also contain very harmful substances that should not be in medicines. Taking such products can lead to severe health problems or a worsening of your condition.

To protect yourself from fraudulent vendors, only buy medicines from a local pharmacy or retailer or from an online pharmacy that is registered with the national competent authorities. You can find the lists of registered online pharmacies in EU countries via EMA’s website or directly from websites of the national competent authorities.

All registered online pharmacies have a common logo which you can use to confirm that the site is registered. The logo consists of a rectangle with horizontal stripes and a white cross placed in the left half of the rectangle adjacent to the midline. Below this is the flag of the EU country where the online pharmacy is registered.

Before buying a medicine from a site, check that the site has the logo and then click on it. You will then be taken to the website of your national authority and shown a list of all legally operating online pharmacies. Check that the online pharmacy you have visited is listed there before continuing with your purchase. If it is not listed, do not buy any medicine from that site.

Keeping safe when buying medicines

  • Falsified medicines can cause serious harm
  • When buying over the internet, only use registered online pharmacies
  • Check that the online pharmacy you are using has the common logo
  • Click on the logo and confirm that the online pharmacy is listed on the national authority website
  • Do not buy medicines advertised as cures or preventive treatments for COVID-19. To treat COVID-related symptoms such as fever, discuss with your doctor or follow advice from authorities

The public is reminded that there are currently no treatments authorised for COVID-19. Medicines are available for treating symptoms such as fever in line with advice from your doctor or pharmacist.

In the event of a shortage of any medicines, you should follow the advice of your doctor, pharmacist or national competent authority. You can find some information about ongoing shortages on the websites of EMA and the national competent authorities.

Posted on the EMA website on 24 March 2020