Millions of Britons are risking their lives by purchasing prescription-only medicines over the internet, new research claims.
The Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain (RPSGB) found more than two million people across Britain now regularly buy medication online, but a third of those polled have no idea about the correct regulations.
The organisation believes there are a number of websites offering to sell drugs which have no professional qualifications.
It claims the medicines on offer are often counterfeit, of poor quality or unapproved by regulators.
RPSGB director of practice and quality improvement, David Pruce, said: “The internet presents a real danger to people’s health.
“Dishonest traders are selling medicines online without any relevant professional qualifications or healthcare expertise.
“The products they sell can be poor quality at best and dangerous at worst. People who wish to buy medicines over the net should do it at a legitimate registered online pharmacy.
“Pharmacists are experts in medicines and can lawfully and safely supply them over the internet.”
The RPSGB has now launched a new internet logo to alert the public to sites which are properly regulated.
A link from the design will also direct people to the RPSGB so they can check the legitimacy of the website and the pharmacists running the practice.
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“Any logo on a website can be counterfeit as well. This should not be too much of a problem for people counterfeiting pharmaceuticals. The only authorised way I would see is the offer of one general website controlled by national health authority with links to all ‘approved’ internet pharmacies, so people can still make their choice, but any site outside that ‘offical portal’ would be a suspect one. If dispensing pharmaceuticals is controlled by law and authorities, a national portal should offend nobody in the pharmaceutical business. Registering for dispensing could then also include an option for a link in the official internet portal.” – Hans Zoller, Hospira Inc, Lake Forest, USA