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PMR Report: Online sales of OTC drugs legal throughout Central Europe

Following legal changes in Romania in 2018, online sales of OTC drugs became legal in all Central European countries. However, it can only be operated by online pharmacies. These are the conclusions of PMR’s report entitled “Online sales of OTC drugs are legal in all Central European countries. Such conclusions can be drawn from the PMR report entitled “Distribution on the pharmaceutical market in Central Europe 2019. Market analysis and development forecasts for 2019-2024”.

So far, Romania has been the only country in the region that has not formally allowed OTC drugs to be sold through online pharmacies. Such sales, however, were carried out with the use of the legal loophole. Currently, the Ministry of Health in this country is working on detailed guidelines for such activities. However, it is already known, on the basis of the draft submitted to public consultation in December, that only stationary pharmacies can sell such products. Moreover, the purchase of OTC drugs online in Romania is only allowed for people aged 18 and over.

After these changes, online sales of OTC drugs are now legal in all countries analysed by PMR. (i.e. Poland, Romania, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Bulgaria and Hungary). Online pharmacies can sell all OTC medicines in these countries.  The only exception is Slovakia, where OTC medicines reimbursed as obligatory health insurance contributions are excluded from online distribution.

This is a significant difference compared to non-pharmacy sales. For such a distribution, each country has defined a list of authorised medicines. Most often it consists of several hundred items and contains products based on the most popular substances (e.g. ibuprofen, paracetamol, etc.).

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