Beware of the risks of buying COVID-19 medicines online

We are urging members of the public not to buy medicines online which claim to cure or prevent COVID-19. While online vendors may claim that their products can prevent, cure or treat COVID-19, such products are likely to be illegal or falsified (fake) and could be harmful to your health.

Don’t be fooled.

There are no authorised medicines to cure or prevent COVID-19. Such medicines sold online may be unsafe.
 

There are no authorised medicines to cure COVID-19

  • Online vendors who claim their products can prevent or cure COVID-19 are likely selling illegal or fake medicines, which they attempt to pass off as real or authorised products.

  • These products have not been tested for safety or effectiveness and could be extremely harmful to your health. Fake medicines can contain no active ingredient, too much or too little of an active ingredient, or the wrong ingredients. They may also contain other dangerous and undeclared substances.

  • To protect yourself from fraudulent vendors, always buy medicines from a trusted source, such as your local pharmacy.

  • The supply of prescription medicines through online sales is illegal. If you are buying non-prescription medicines online, make sure you are buying from an authorised seller by checking the list of suppliers operating legally.

What to do if you have symptoms

  • If you have symptoms of COVID-19, self-isolate and phone your GP. 

  • You will find the latest public health advice and guidance on the HSE website.

  • If you are seeking a test to diagnose COVID-19, please visit the HSE webpage containing information about how to get tested.

When will medicines be authorised to cure or prevent COVID-19?

For updates related to COVID-19 vaccines, please visit our COVID-19 Vaccines website section. The section contains responses to frequently asked questions about vaccines, information about the approval process for COVID-19 vaccines and information about the safety monitoring of COVID-19 vaccines. 

What is the role of the HPRA during the COVID-19 response?

Facilitating the development and availability of medicines and vaccines for COVID-19 is a key focus for the HPRA. Together with national regulators across Europe, the EMA and the European Commission, we are prioritising work linked to:

  • The development of potential treatments and vaccines (including accelerated assessment of applications for both clinical trials and medicines authorisation);

  • The availability of medicines needed to treat COVID-19 patients (including crucial medicines used in intensive care units).

Relevant updates will be posted on our dedicated Medicines and Vaccines: COVID-19 Updates page.

Report suspicious activity

If you are aware of a website, social media page or social media advertisement claiming to sell products that prevent, cure or treat COVID-19, please report it to us by emailing reportacase@hpra.ie. It is against the law to supply prescription medicines online. Manufacturing fake medicines is also a criminal offence.

We are currently monitoring the market for illegal products. We are working alongside Revenue’s Customs Service and An Garda Síochána to detain illegal products coming into Ireland and to shut down websites and social media pages making false claims about health products related to COVID-19.

Additional resources

HSE: COVID-19 public health advice

Department of Health: COVID-19 public health advice

HPRA information leaflet: The dangers of buying prescription medicines online

HPRA: How to report suspicious activities

The European Medicines Agency: Treatments and vaccines for COVID-19