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Prescribing Advice for GPs

An NHS Prescribing Advisers' Blog

Online Pharmacies unsafe?

An analysis of more than 3,000 online pharmacies has revealed that consumers are being exposed to significant risks, both medically and financially. The research was conducted by MarkMonitor and has been reported on the BBC.

The study found that:

  • Many online pharmacies are not accredited and therefore may not be operating a genuine pharmacy business
  • 10% of the sites clearly stated that no prescription was required for supply of a prescription only medication
  • More than half were not adequately storing customers' private data, including banking details
  • Cost differences between accredited sites and non-accredited sites are indicative of fake or expired products

The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) has jurisdiction over British-based pharmacies but cannot close down pharmacies based abroad. The Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain (RPSGB) maintains a register of all pharmacies in England Scotland and Wales, including those based online. A logo scheme is planned that will allow consumers to verify registration details and should be operational by the end of the year.

Action: Clinicians should encourage patients to use reputable sources for their medications. Consumers who choose to use an online pharmacy should ensure that the site is being operated by a legitimate retail pharmacy business.

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One Comment to “Online Pharmacies unsafe?”

  1. Any market that you are inadequately prepared to deal in can be unsafe. If you know nothing about stocks but decided one day to try your hand in the stock market, undoubtedly you are at risk to lose your money. The same goes for purchasing online medications. If you do your research and know what to look for, online pharmacies can save you time both time and money while delivering quality medications.

    As the article pointed out, never purchase drugs from any online pharmacy that does not require a prescription. Also, make sure that each pharmacy has a license to dispense meds from there governing board, state or providence.

    Some other things to check are:

    A Pharmacy Behind the Website
    Every pharmacy that you order from should have a physical brick and mortar pharmacy to fill the prescriptions.

    Licensed Physician
    A licensed physician is always on hand with legitimate pharmacies. This is important so that you receive the correct prescription as well as receive the answer to any important questions you might have.

    Legitimate Delivery
    Prescriptions should always be delivered in a traceable secure manner. A pharmacy offering methods of delivery that are shady may be trying to take your money or operating in a manner that is outside the law. Normal delivery through a trusted mail carrier is usually a good sign.

    Check Your Prescription
    Always check to make sure your prescription is correct before your order is mailed and before you consume it. Miscommunication with the pharmacy can result in a major hassle or severe health risks. This is especially true when ordering from foreign pharmacies. In some cases, a medication can have the same name in different countries but be used to treat 2 different illnesses. Be careful.

    Protect Your Privacy
    Before you give your personal information, make sure that your privacy is protected. Some websites will take your information and solicit it to others sites on the web. This could result in endless spamming, phone solicitation, credit card, or even identity theft. When it comes to giving out your personal information, you can never be too careful.

    Comment by Cary — September 6, 2007 #

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