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Surge in treatment of fake internet drug victims

16 April 2009

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One in four doctors have treated patients for the side-effects of fake medicines bought over the internet.

Doctors have issued a new warning on the dangers of buying drugs online, as figures from the Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain (RPSGB) reveal more than two million people in the UK regularly purchase “medicines” from websites.

Many sites offer fake medicines and promote doctors with no professional qualifications, and while some online pharmacies are legitimate, the medicines they offer may be counterfeit, substandard or unapproved new drugs – which all put patients at risk.

Dr Bill Beeby, from the British Medical Association’s GPs’ Committee, said: “When it comes to buying drugs on the internet, it is a minefield. People just don’t know what they’d be getting. I wouldn’t advise any of my patients to go down that route.”

A survey of 423 doctors for GP newspaper found 25% have treated patients for bad reactions caused by dangerous medicines bought online, and 85% said online pharmacies needed to be more tightly regulated.

Royal College of GPs spokeswoman and GP Dr Sarah Jarvis said: “Surveys looking at many online medications suggest that the proportion of counterfeits is enormously high and that many of them contain very worrying ingredients.”

Copyright © Press Association 2009

Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain