Buying Medicine Online

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Buying Medicine and Medical Devices and Equipment Online

Online shopping is growing at a rapid pace as consumers seek convenience and retailers and suppliers seek more cost-effective business practices. Pharmacies are highly active in the online shopping industry which provides convenience to many shoppers. But when it comes to buying medicine online, consumers should be aware of regulations and warnings and follow Government advice and guidelines.

Government Regulation

In Australia, medicines and other medical and health products and equipment, known as therapeutic goods, are regulated by the TGA – Therapeutic Goods Administration TGA comes under the Australian Government Department of Health and is tasked with assessing and monitoring to ensure that the therapeutic goods which are available for sale and use in Australia are of an acceptable standard.

If you are purchasing medicine online or in a store, you should be checking that it has been approved by the TGA.

Buying Medicine Online - Risks

The overriding message from Australian authorities is, if you are buying medical devices and medicines online, you should be buying from Australian companies and websites.

The risk include:

  • If buying from overseas, the goods may not have been approved by the TGA as such products are not regulated by the TGA.
  • You could be breaking the law as some products are prohibited in Australia.
  • You may lose your money by dealing with disreputable websites.
  • The products may not be genuine and may pose a risk to your health.
  • The products may not include the right ingredients or the correct amount of active ingredients that will be effective.
  • The products may be past their use by date which you may not discover until the product arrives or it may have illegal and incorrect use by stamps.

To fully understand the risks, the TGA has provided an informative video

The Pharmacy Guild of Australia which is the representative body for pharmacists also provides a fact sheet covering the risks

Guidelines to Buying Medicines Online

In some cases, buying medicines online from websites can offer consumers both convenience and cost-savings but you need to be well-informed.

The Australian Government Department of Health provides very informative websites which will answer many of your questions and

While you may want the convenience of buying your medicines online, you need to consider why not all medicines are available online. Many are prescription-only, and purchased only through a pharmacy when you present the prescription from your doctor. This is for patient safety. A doctor will assess the interaction of each medicine with other medicines you are taking and will advise you and consider, any side effects of individual medicines.

If you do want or need to purchase medicines, treatments and medical devices online, authorities advise:

  • Refer to your health professional for advice on where you should purchase your requirements.
  • Check that the pharmacy or website is actually located in Australia.
  • Check that this is a legitimate Australian business. Go to the ABOUT US or CONTACT US pages for their address, their email, operational phone and other details such as their Australian Business Number (ABN). ABNs can be checked through
  • Do an internet search for the business and read any reviews which may indicate this is not a legitimate business. Investigate as fully as possible.
  • Some drugs are illegal for use in Australia and purchasing them from overseas can attract a penalty. The Office of Drug Control has lists of prohibited medicines, drugs and other medicinal products.

As with all online purchases, follow advisories to ensure your credit card, identity and other aspects are protected.