Warning over online medicine ‘risks’

A growing number of people are purchasing medicines on the internet without a prescription, a trend that is actually putting the health of those that do so at risk, research suggests.

Research by the Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) and pharmaceutical company Pfizer revealed that three-quarters of pharmacists believe the activity has become more commonplace over the last few years.

A total of 650 pharmacists were polled in the study, of which half said a customer had admitted purchasing medicine in this way.

Alleviating embarrassment, the ability to access treatments faster, or to self-medicate were the main reasons given as to why people might opt to buy medicines online.

The findings come as a group of health organisations have launched the Real Danger campaign, aimed at raising awareness about the risks of buying prescription medicines online through unregulated channels without a prescription.

Unlicensed or fake medicines bought via the internet could contain harmful ingredients such as arsenic, while officials have warned they could potentially be lethal.