INDUSTRIES, E-COMMERCE | The ECJ on the online sale of non-prescription medicinal products

On 29 February 2024, the European Court of Justice (ECJ) issued its judgment in Case C-606/21(Doctipharma SAS v. Union des Groupements de pharmaciens d’officine) concerning the legality of distance selling of medicinal products without a prescription. In particular, the Court of Appeal of Paris requested a preliminary ruling to the ECJ asking, first, whether Doctipharma’s activity is to be regarded as an “information society service” within the meaning of Directive 98/34/EC and, secondly, whether EU law allows Member States to prohibit the provision of the service of connecting, by means of a website, pharmacists and customers for the sale of medicinal products not subject to prescription. As regards the first matter, the ECJ replied in the affirmative, stating that the service of connecting dispensing pharmacists and potential patients for the sale of medicinal products falls within the concept of an “information society service”. The ECJ then clarified that Member States may prohibit a service provider that is not a pharmacist from selling non-prescription medicinal products itself, but may not prohibit the service of merely connecting, via a website, pharmacists and customers for the sale of medicinal products without a prescription.

Newsletter n. 94 – March 2024