Online Pharmacies: Marketing of Drugs and Medical Devices

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Online Pharmacies:

Marketing of Drugs and Medical Devices 

The following article has been adapted and re-purposed with content originally published by Health Canada and the National Association of Pharmacy Regulatory Authorities.

Health Canada would like to remind healthcare professionals and online pharmacy owners that online pharmacies in Canada are subject to the following Canadian federal legislation related to the advertising of health products: 

Anyone who promotes the sale of a specific health product is subject to this legislation. This includes healthcare providers. 

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Stop Illegal Marketing of Drugs and Devices (SIM-DD) Program  

Health Canada’s SIM-DD Program is a platform that provides support to healthcare professionals in understanding, identifying, and reporting illegal marketing of drugs and medical devices. The SIM-DD Program also helps healthcare professionals and online pharmacy owners avoid engaging in illegal advertising when promoting health products and/or services to consumers.  

Healthcare professionals are encouraged to report any suspected illegal online pharmacy advertising to Health Canada. 

Verifying the Legitimacy of Online Pharmacies in Canada  

In Canada, pharmacies and/or pharmacy owners are regulated by the pharmacy regulatory authority in the jurisdiction (province or territory) where the business is established.  

A legitimate pharmacy and/or pharmacy owner – including online pharmacies and owners of online pharmacies – will thus be licensed by the pharmacy regulatory authority in that province or territory.  

Some websites that offer prescription drugs for sale will claim to be licensed by a Canadian pharmacy regulatory authority when in fact they are not.  

Learn how to verify the legitimacy of a Canadian online pharmacy 

Additional Resources

Health Canada encourages healthcare professionals to discuss the risks of purchasing drugs from illegal online sellers with their patients. The following links are provided to help identify and differentiate illegal websites selling drugs from licensed online pharmacies in Canada: 

Oct 13, 2023