The risks behind buying medicines online

by Jcasp | March , 2017

Warnings have been given regarding purchasing medications on the internet after an investigation found “widespread failings” with some online providers, according to the Care Quality Commission (CQC). The watchdog inspected 11 internet prescription services in England, finding some “potentially presenting a significant risk to patients”.

Risks buying medicines online: The regulator said while some providers were well-run, others “cut corners” and says it will visit providers and close down those who are found to be putting patients at risk.

The CQC has now published a clear set of standards for online pharmacies, saying they must:

  • verify that patients match their photo ID, such as through a Skype check
  • get a comprehensive and up-to-date medical history
  • ensure patients truly understand what medicines they are being given
  • seek permission to contact a patient’s GP.

Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard, Chair of the Royal College of GPs, has responded to these warnings by saying:

“Whether a patient is accessing care in the community, in hospital or online, they should be confident that it is being delivered safely and in their best interests.

“It’s incredibly concerning to hear reports of patients buying prescription drugs online with minimal security checks in place – so it’s good to see the CQC and others recognising this, and taking the issue seriously.

“Technology can undoubtedly make our lives easier, and buying medication online can seem convenient – but it is not without risk. If patients are able to buy prescription drugs online, without appropriate health checks in place, and with decisions about whether to supply them being made by someone who doesn’t have access to their relevant medical history, it is a very real threat to their safety.

“There are strict GMC guidelines on remote prescribing that must be followed – and if they are not, then action must be taken against the websites in question.

“GPs and other prescribers in the community are highly trained to take into account physical, psychological and social factors when treating a patient, and will only prescribe drugs if it suits the unique health needs of the person sitting in front of them. They will also be able to ensure that the drugs work safely in combination with other medications that the patient may be using.

“We would also urge our patients to consider the implications of buying drugs online using unverified websites – there is no way of knowing what they are buying is what they think it is, and this can have terrible consequences. Instead, if they think they need medication, we would advise them to seek the help of a healthcare professional, such as a GP or pharmacist, who can advise on the best course of treatment if it’s necessary.”




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