The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Authority (MHRA) has only approved 15 online pharmacies to display an anti-counterfeiting logo, a month after the EU requirement came into force.
As part of European anti-counterfeiting laws, all legitimate websites selling medicines have been required to register with the MHRA and display a common logo since July 1. The logo links to the MHRA's complete list of approved online pharmacies and medicine retailers.
But only 15 businesses – including Tesco – have been approved so far, according to the MHRA website. Neither Boots, Lloydspharmacy or Well feature on the list as of today (August 3).
The MHRA told C+D last week (July 30) that “more than 200” businesses have logo applications that are “being progressed at the present time”.
Interim period for applications
EU rules mean the medicines watchdog has 90 working days to process applications, and this can result in "interim periods between the application and the seller displaying the logo”, the MHRA stressed.
“We would not expect sellers to cease trading during this interim period, provided they have submitted an application to the MHRA,” it added.
Shamir Patel, managing director of online pharmacy business Chemist-4-U, told C+D that his company applied for the logo on June 24.
“The MHRA has been very slow to allocate the logos and have only provided us with an email that said they were processing the application within three months,” Mr Patel said. “I cannot believe a government agency that was made aware of new EU legislation left it until the 11th hour to implement [it].”
“We now look poor in comparison to our EU counterparts,” he added.
When the MHRA announced details of the logo application scheme in June, it stressed that anyone found selling medicines online without displaying it could face a fine, up to two years in prison or both. However, the watchdog would be “pragmatic about encouraging compliance before taking legal action”, it said at the time.