Many websites selling medicines via the Internet are legitimate businesses and the ease and often reduced prices offered by online shopping is tempting, but some websites are not legitimate and some are fake sites selling out of date, poor quality, contaminated and even fake products. Overseas websites are not regulated by the Therapeutic Goods Administration and the products they sell may not meet Australian safety and quality standards. The website may offer limited or non-existent health and safety information or dose recommendations for their product, preventing an informed choice.

Legitimate overseas pharmacies will require a prescription that meets the local requirements and an Australian prescription may not be valid. Many studies testing products from overseas online pharmaceuticals have     demonstrated the products to be either counterfeit, contain the wrong amount of the active ingredient, be contaminated with toxic chemicals, contain undisclosed dangerous ingredients and be past their use-by dates. 

It is illegal to import certain medicines or medical devices into Australia by mail. It is also difficult to tell which of the products are regulated,  a wrong purchase could risk your health, can be very expensive and may result in breaking Australian law ( for a list of prohibited substances and products, such as narcotics and some hormone products,  see If your medicine contains human, animal, plant or bacterial ingredients, or contains living cells or tissues, it will be subject to quarantine procedures.

Medical devices which are deemed to be for a commercial or clinical purpose may be seized as they are not considered to be for personal use, this includes equipment used in medical clinics or beauty and laser clinics, such as IPL machines and medical lasers.

If you are looking for a legitimate website, it should clearly show:


  • a physical address
  • an email address
  • a working contact telephone number
  • credible details about the company or owner, such as company name and Australian Company Number




Online reviews may be present to check for complaints or alerts from other customers.

A legitimate Australian online pharmacy will require you to forward a valid prescription before the product is dispensed, provide a phone contact for you to talk with a pharmacist within designated hours, give a number of prices depending on your entitlements and the kind of prescription and have an internet address ending in

Complementary medicines made in Australia are subjected to regulations that may not apply to products bought overseas. You are not protected by Australian consumer laws for products bought overseas. Many studies since 2000 analysing complimentary products available for sale in Europe, US and UK raise concerns about toxic substances including heavy metals, pesticides and microbes contained in the products. Some products may contain substances that are illegal in Australia.  

Complementary medicines should be treated with the same caution as prescription medicines, avoid the temptation to self-diagnose and self-medicate with medicines bought online. See your regular GP about your health concerns, avoid websites that suggest doctors don't support the product because of a conspiracy, or that prescription medications provided through your doctor are 'poison' and the treatment replaces prescription medication, in particular before ceasing or reducing prescribed medication. 

For information about the benefits and side-effects of medicines see

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