Medicines and Internet

Press-release concerning the information campaign

Brochure (french version)

Medicines and the Internet

Following the request of the 51st world health assembly (resolution WHA51.9, May 1998), the director general of WHO, together with the authorities in charge of regulating medicines, experts in information in this field, consumer rights, health organisations and the pharmaceutical industry, wrote a guide on the subject of « Medicines and the Internet. »

Here are the themes covered in this Medicines and the Internet guide.

The Internet, a source of information about health

The Internet enables one to have quick and easy access to health information (sicknesses, medicines, medical organisations and institutions)

Reliability of the information?

Information obtained on the Internet can be useful when consulting the doctor or any other health professional. However advice given on the Internet will never be able to replace an appointment with your doctor or pharmacist.

Take care to check the source of the information. Point 2 of the guide gives you some advice on this matter.


If information promises the earth and makes you suspicious it should be carefully checked and evaluated. Take into account the warnings given in point 3 of the guide.

10 reasons for taking care

It is necessary to take care when you decide to buy medicines via the Internet. In several countries the procedure of purchasing medicines can even be illegal. We would re commend that you purchase medicines via the legal channels of distribution such as pharmacies.

In Belgium, since 09/02/2009, a pharmacy for public can under very strict conditions, offer for sale by internet medicines for human use authorised in Belgium, which are not subject to a prescription, and certain medical devices under the responsibility of the pharmacist(s).

You should read carefully the 10 reasons for being careful in point 4 of the guide.

Consult your doctor or your pharmacist

Even if you find interesting information on the Internet it is important to consult a health professional before treatment.

The reasons for the importance in such a consultation are set out in point 5 of the guide.

FAMHP (The Federal Agency for Medicines and Health Products) works together with WHO to fight against the illegal advertising and sale of medicines on the Internet. It is important that Internet users advise FAMHP if they see cases they suspect of being illegal and any problem areas.


Federal Agency for Medicines and Health Products
Eurostation II
Place Victor Horta, 40 box 40
1060 Brussels
Tel : + 32 (0)2 524 83 60
Fax : + 32 (0)2 524 80 01
E-mail :  



Last updated on 11/07/2023