An EU logo designed to combat the online sale of counterfeit medicines could confuse patients by not differentiating between pharmacies and other retailers, Pharmacy Voice has warned.
As part of European anti-counterfeit laws, all legitimate websites selling medicines in EU member states must display a common logo by mid-2015. The logo will link to a complete list of online pharmacies and medicine retailers on the website of the national medicines regulator.
But Pharmacy Voice said the logo, which was adopted by the European Commission last week (June 24), would not make it clear whether a website was run by health professionals or other retailers such as supermarkets.
Pharmacy Voice planning and policy manager James Davies said the logo, which consists of a white cross on a green background next to the country's national flag, could easily be confused with a traditional pharmacy logo. This could lead consumers to mistakenly believe the website was run by a registered pharmacist, he stressed.
"We're using a symbol for registered pharmacies [to] cover places that are not selling the whole spectrum of medicines," he told C+D.
The General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) already operates an internet logo scheme and Mr Davies said he hoped the EU plans would continue to differentiate between registered pharmacies and other retailers.
The MHRA could also struggle to manage the growing number of websites selling medicines, he added.
The MHRA told C+D it would discuss the logo with "interested stakeholders" before it was introduced next year and would take all concerns into consideration.
The logo forms part of the falsified medicines directive, which comes into force fully in 2017. Under the EU directive, pharmacists will be required to scan the barcodes of most prescription-only and some over-the-counter medicines to check their authenticity.