European Union

Founded in 2011, participants in the Alliance for Safe Online Pharmacy (ASOP EU) are united by a single mission that together, we can create an environment that enables patients to buy their medicines online safely, in countries where it is legal for them to do so. ASOP EU does not campaign for the introduction of online pharmacy where it is not already legal.

ASOP EU was established with the objective of making buying medicines online safer, in countries where it is permitted by Law.  It does not campaign for the introduction of online pharmacy in countries where it has yet to be legalised.

ASOP EU is an informal, independent multi-stakeholder coalition, with patient safety at the heart of everything that it stands for.

ASOP EU consists of various groups: patient organisations, healthcare providers, pharmacists, pharmaceutical companies, distributors, wholesalers, parallel traders, and online interme­diaries, such as logistics and postal companies, ISPs and platforms, search engines, and financial service providers that transact payments.  All participants are dedicated to increasing patient safety online and campaigning for tough action against illegal online pharmacies. It aims to make real and positive change to improve patient safety online, ensuring that Europe plays its important part in securing practical solutions to this growing global problem.

ASOP EU believes that the real power to disrupt the criminal business activity behind illegal online pharmacies lies with the key Internet intermediaries that, unintentionally, connect the rogue pharmacies with patients and consumers.  Stronger co-operation between these organisations is crucial to prevent online sales of counterfeit medicines. ASOP EU holds the view that the best way to disrupt this criminal activity is through voluntary and collaborative action on the part of the intermediaries.  Under this approach, private sector companies that provide services in support of online pharmacies would share information on sites that sell counterfeit or illegal pharmaceuticals. 

A number of actions have already been taken that are helpful in this respect, notably the Memorandum of Understanding against the sale of counterfeit goods online coordinated by the European Commission; the Charter to fight counterfeiting on the internet coordinated by the Government of France; and the launch of the (US-based) Center for Safe Internet Pharmacies (CSIP) supported by the US Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator.

ASOP EU calls on EU policy and decision-makers:

  • To consider the full range of policy options including voluntary action to address the problem of illegal online pharmacies.
  • To support a stakeholder dialogue involving all players that can directly or indirectly prevent illegal online pharmacies selling medicines to patients.
  • To work in partnership with members of this coalition to inform patients about the risks of purchasing from illegal online pharmacies. 
  • To continue to strengthen enforcement actions against sellers and traffickers of counterfeit medicines.

In return, the participants of ASOP EU undertake to work in partnership with policymakers to provide information on the illegal activities of rogue online pharmacies and to collaborate in developing policies and concrete actions to tackle this serious threat to patients.

On behalf of patients, the ASOP EU seeks the following: 

  1. Agreed standards of due diligence and harmonised operating procedures for Internet intermediaries. In particular, ASOP EU supports the Principles of Participation issued by CSIP.
  2. The introduction of “White Lists” fuelled by pre-qualification for a .pharmacy domain suffix.
  3. Direct action on the part of GtLD Registrars, to prevent spurious websites from appearing on the internet.
  4. A common methodology for removing rogue pharmacies, with effective sharing of information amongst stakeholders.
  5. A harmonised reporting mechanism for patients to easily report suspicious websites to a specific body, to remove these from the web.
  6. Penalties appropriate to a crime which puts public health at risk.
  7. Pan European awareness campaigns to educate patients about spurious online pharmacies.

In return, the participants of ASOP EU undertake to work in partnership with policymakers to provide information on the illegal activities of rogue online pharmacies and to collaborate in developing policies and concrete actions to tackle this serious threat to patients.

ASOP Global EU Contacts

Mike Isles
44 (0) 7540 462 867
mike.isles@asop.eu

Klaus Gritschneder
gritschneder@eamsp.org