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Sale of over-the-counter medicines via Amazon

This post is also available in: Deutsch

By judgment of 18.01.2019, the 4th Chamber of Commercial Matters ruled that the sale of over-the-counter, pharmacy-based medicines via the trading platform “Amazon” did not constitute an unfair commercial act under Section 3 of the Unfair Competition Act (UWG) Represents.

The complained pharmacist, based in the town of Oberharz am Brocken, offers sellers as a so-called marketplace via the trading platform over-the-counter and pharmacy-based medications, acting under the name of his pharmacy. The drugs are not sold and shipped via Amazon, but through the pharmacy.

A pharmacist from Munich as a competitor has sued the defendant for not offering the drugs via Amazon.

The Chamber of Commerce has not seen any violation of legal regulations in this distribution channel. It thus refers to a case-law of the Federal Administrative Court of 2012 (judgment of 18.10.2012 Az. 3 C 25/11), according to which internet mail order for over-the-counter medicines is permitted in principle.

However, if “internet pharmacies” are generally permitted, then a pharmacist may also choose the one via a trading platform – as – as a distribution channel.

The trading platform also merely provides access to the defendant’s offer. The trading platform is not involved in the pharmaceutical activity, since the sale and dispatch are carried out solely by the defendant. However, the defendant operates a pharmacy and has official permission to send medicines.

Nor is it a violation of the law in that there are customer reviews, both of the drugs and the pharmacy itself. For example, the seller profile shows 100 – 511 positive reviews in the last 12 months (as of January 18, 2019). However, every user of the site can immediately recognize that this is not about advertisements and reviews of the pharmacy itself, but about the opinions of the consumers. In so doing, the defendant did not violate the rules on drug advertising.

Marian Härtel

Marian Härtel

Marian Härtel is a lawyer and entrepreneur specializing in copyright law, competition law and IT/IP law, with a focus on games, esports, media and blockchain.


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