The MHRA has announced that from 1 July anybody in the UK selling medicines online – including THR products and homeopathic medicines – needs to be registered with the MHRA and be on its list of UK registered online retail sellers. Failure to comply with the EU-wide law could result in a two-year prison sentence.
Retailers will be required to also display the logo on every page of their website where relevant products are featured. The new EU logo will contain a hyperlink to the retailer’s entry in the MHRA’s list of registered online sellers.
The Agency emphasizes that there is no transition period for the new logo scheme and all registration applications must be received by 1 July 2015. There is currently no charge from the MHRA for processing applications (which may take up to 90 days), but this may change in the future. The penalty for selling medicines online without being registered and not displaying the logo is up to two years in prison or a fine or both.
Lynda Scammell, senior policy advisor at the MHRA said: “The new logo scheme should provide people buying medicines online with the reassurance that they are buying from a legitimate site. People will be able to click through to a list of registered sellers so they know the site is properly registered. Buying from an unregistered site could mean you do not know what medicines you are getting, and you could even be damaging your health.”
But natural products brands and retailers have expressed concern at the MHRA’s eleventh hour announcement, and the disproportionate impact the compulsory scheme could have on independent health food retailers.
Avril McCracken at the National Association of Health Stores (NAHS) told NPN: “We’ve spoken to the MHRA and told them we are very surprised and concerned that retailers – many of whom are small businesses, with limited resources – have been given just days to register for this compulsory scheme. We were told that the issue ‘had been ongoing for some time’ – but it’s the first we’ve heard about it despite being signed up to the MHRA’s alerts and press releases.
“… we are very surprised and concerned that retailers – many of whom are small businesses, with limited resources – have been given just days to register for this compulsory scheme”
“It’s especially ironic that just as the prime minister is pledging to cut Brussels red tape we are landed with more of it!”
Herbal remedies specialist A. Vogel commented: “This new regulation does not appear to be aimed specifically at health food web-retailers or herbal remedies, but applies to all web-retailers, synthetic and natural medicines alike. However, it does impose a greater level of complexity to business and will have a disproportionate impact on those operating in the natural products industry.”
Picture: The new compulsory EU logo – pretty it ain’t