Danes' buying of medicine on the internet and abroad – survey

11 September 2007

A recent survey conducted by the Danish Medicines Agency maintains that there is limited knowledge among the Danish people about the rules applicable to and the risks associated with buying medicine on the internet and abroad. Download the report in Danish in the box to the right. 

The survey results show among other things:

  • More than half of the respondents indicate that they are not sufficiently familiar with the rules related to the buying of medicine over the internet.
  • Nearly 25% has either bought or considered buying medicine or health food products on the internet once or several times, and a matching number has bought or considered buying medicine abroad.
  • Nearly half of those who has bought medicine on the internet or abroad did at no time consider whether there could be any side effects related to the medicine, just as some 25% indicate that they have never heard about counterfeit medicine.
  • The most popular products bought via the internet are proteins/vitamins, herbal medicinal products, exotic herbal remedies and weight-loss products. By contrast, it is mainly pain-relief products and antibiotics that are bought abroad.
  • Generally, there are three reasons for buying medicine abroad. 1) sickness during visit abroad, 2) medicine is cheaper abroad 3) medicine cannot be purchased in Denmark. 
  • The respondents give three general causes to buying the medicine on the internet: 1) The price is cheaper compared with the pharmacy price, 2) the medicine is not available at Danish pharmacies and 3) it is easier to connect to the internet than to visit the doctor or a pharmacy. 
  • More than 25% of the persons having bought medicine via the internet indicate that the medicine did not work as expected.

Campaign against counterfeit medicine and sensible use of medicine

The results of the survey indicate that there is a great need for information among the public, which gives us good reason to continue our campaign against counterfeit medicine and sensible use of medicine.

The campaign is intended to increase the medicine users' alertness, draw attention to medicine-related risks, encourage medicine users to act sensibly, and finally to remind users that they have a responsibility of their own.

So far, the campaign has comprised campaign posters to general practitioners, a nationwide free postcard campaign (the so-called 'Go cards'), information and debate on the website of the Danish Medicines Agency, advertisements in the freely distributed Sunday Paper and links to our campaign internet pages from other websites: netdoktor.dk, apoteket.dk and forbrug.dk.

The future campaign activities will be based on the messages from the user survey and be targeted at specific segments.