Buying pharmaceutical products online becomes more and more common. Consumers look for cheap prices as well as products not available in their home country.
Some orders are sent by ordinary online pharmacies within the EU, others however by rather dubious onlineshops in a third country, mainly in Asia.
Only OTC-drugs allowed
Importing counterfeit products of course is illegal.
But also concerning original drugs there are strict rules in the Austrian Act on Importing Pharmaceutical Products (Arzneiwareneinfuhrgesetz).
Only over-the-counter medicines with an Austrian approval number may be imported. Besides, just the amount necessary for individual use (maximum three packages of a specific drug) are allowed to be ordered from abroad.
It is not allowed to order ethical drugs in a foreign pharmacy.
In case of an infringement of these rules customs may seize the goods and have them destroyed. The costs for that have to be paid by the person ordering the pharmaceutical products.
If the danger of re-offering is given, a customer can also be fined by the authorities (up to € 7.260,-).
Especially parcels arriving from Asian traders are checked carefully by Austrian customs. In 2009 more than 27.000 pharmaceutical packings have been confiscated. Most of the parcels contained potency medicines, diet pills or products improving the hair growth.
Test orders in various online pharmacies showed that prices of the drugs as well as shipping costs vary highly. In some cases buying the product in a conventional pharmacy at home was even cheaper.