Online pharmacies collecting sensitive data without user consent

Online pharmacies collecting sensitive data without user consent

Mar 29, 2022

Analysis by Usercentrics shows: 89% of the most popular online pharmacies in the EU do not meet GDPR requirements

Every day, pharmacy webshops process personal data of their visitors and customers, while selling privacy-sensitive products such as antidepressants, diabetes medicines and products related to reproductive health, heart disease or addiction treatments.

Usercentrics scanned the 150 most-used pharmacy web stores in the European Union, analyzing the extent to which website operators are complying with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

The results were staggering:

  • 89% of the most popular online pharmacies do not meet GDPR requirements with regard to obtaining end-user consent before processing personal data through the use of cookies.
  • 55% of all non-necessary cookies were activated and in use on the website’s landing page without any user consent.
  • 62% of all cookies set without the user’s consent are third-party marketing cookies.

With consumers increasingly demanding enhanced data privacy from the companies they do business with, these results are particularly worrying for a privacy-sensitive sector.

Breaking consumer trust, risking damage to brand reputation and breaching core requirements of the GDPR, the pharma e-commerce market in Europe – poised to grow by almost 9.5 billion euros during 2020-2024 according to research from Technavio – paints a worrying picture of data privacy compliance failures.

Tilman Harmeling, Entrepreneur in residence of Usercentrics states: “Our deep scanning technology revealed major GDPR compliance failures across the privacy-sensitive online pharmacy industry, and highlights the damaging effects on customer relations. In the four years since the GDPR took effect, data privacy has evolved from an obscure legal requirement into a strong consumer demand and metric of brand reputation. Respecting end-user consent through transparent and compliant use of cookies and trackers, is therefore vital for any online business wishing to build consumer trust.

The full report can be found here.


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Camilla Beaven and Hannah Sinz
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