Medical Law

Online pharmacies cannot offer cheap medicine in Germany

Due to the high cost of medication, many people in Germany fear becoming ill. In fact, many people now choose to purchase their medication abroad through online pharmacies. But a court in Germany has now ruled that foreign pharmacies cannot offer reduced prices on the German market.

Online pharmacies cannot offer cheap medicine in Germany ©- Thomas-Jansa-Fotolia

Online pharmacies cannot offer cheap medicine in Germany ©- Thomas-Jansa-Fotolia

Online pharmacies

As the price of pharmaceutical products is high, consumers cannot be blamed for shopping around. However, under German medical law the price of prescription medicines is set by regulation.

To undercut the binding prices on the German market, a Dutch internet pharmacy offered a reduction of 3% on prescription medicines.

A number of pharmacies in Germany took exception, and brought a claim, which went all the way up to Germany’s Federal Court of Justice (case ref.: I ZR 72/08, I ZR 119/09, I ZR 120/09).

In 2012, the Combined Senate of Federal Courts of Justice held that Germany’s pharmaceutical rules and in particular the binding price rules apply to pharmacies in the EU which wish to sell their products over the internet in Germany.

In light of this judgment, the Dutch defendant agreed to not sell pharmaceutical products at a reduced price in Germany.

Germany’s Federal Court of Justice will now have to consider whether Germany’s rules on binding pharmaceutical prices apply to those consumers who order low-price prescription medicines and have them delivered to pharmacies in Germany (case ref.: 79/10). This judgment is expected to be published on 22nd January 2014.

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Christian Solmecke is a partner at the law firm WILDE BEUGER SOLMECKE. He is the author of numerous legal publications in the area of internet and IT law. He is also an associate lecturer for social media law at the Cologne University of Applied Sciences.

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