Why Buying Medicines Online is Risky and Dangerous

Why Buying Medicines Online is Risky and Dangerous

Buying certain drugs and medication online might seem ok since they come well packaged or are purchased from an online pharmacy; however, when you buy online there are some risks. Online pharmacies that are registered to sell in the UK are OK but others may not be. Keep an eye out for these kinds of registered pharmacy and verification logos, below:

How Can You Check If a Website Is a Legitimate Online Pharmacy?

Online pharmacies that want to sell prescription medication in England must be registered with the Care Quality Commission (CQC). This is a government appointed independent regulator of health and social care.

When you visit a website that is CQC regulated, you should see a clickable link like this which proves they are authentic:

CQC Regulated Logo

Also, it is mandatory that all pharmacies that supply medicines online must be registered with the General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC).

Since July 2015, all legitimate online pharmacies operating in the EU have been required to display the following logo:-

EU Pharmacy Logo

What’s The Risk When Buying From Unregistered Pharmacies?

When you purchase medication from unregistered pharmacies, you might be getting fake drugs that appear real. The medication probably doesn’t have the active drug or the required dose. The pills might have more of the active ingredient that is required or it might include ingredients that are low quality or harmful. These drugs can be potentially harmful to your health if they have not been properly screened. For instance, you could be getting a drug made to look like Xanax, however, alprazolam (Xanax’s active ingredient) might not be included or at the other extreme, it might have too much and result in you having to be hospitalised.

The Dangers of Counterfeit Drugs

Fake medicines often contain the wrong amount of active ingredient, no active ingredient at all, or even toxic substances like rat poison, boric acid, and antifreeze. Taking counterfeit drugs can lead to treatment failure, adverse reactions, or even death.

For example, in 2008 over 80 Americans died after taking counterfeit heparin, a blood thinner, that was contaminated with oversulfated chondroitin sulfate. The contaminant caused severe allergic reactions and many patients went into fatal shock. This tragic incident highlights the very real dangers posed by fake medicines.

To protect yourself and your loved ones, only buy from legitimate pharmacies you trust, whether online or in-person. If a website seems suspicious or an online deal appears too good to be true, trust your instincts. Don’t put your health at risk just to save a few pounds.

How to Spot Suspicious Online Pharmacies

Be wary of online pharmacies that don’t require a prescription, offer deep discounts, ship worldwide, or are located outside of the UK. Reputable online pharmacies will always require a valid prescription, be registered with the appropriate UK regulatory bodies, and provide a physical address and phone number to contact them.

The Problem of Fake Viagra

In 2019, the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) highlighted the problem of fake erectile dysfunction drugs being sold online. 3.5 million fake drugs of this type were seized by authorities that year. The ironic thing is that Sildenafil pills (sold as Viagra) are now available to buy without a prescription. They can be bought over the counter – or from a genuine online pharmacy. However, because many people would rather skip an awkward conversation with the GP or Pharmacist, they instead buy online and many then fall into the trap of buying fake drugs.

The Risk To Your Personal Information

Your financial and personal details might also be in jeopardy on these dodgy websites. Your info could be collected and sold to criminals, which could then be used to extort money from you or other people. Buying online is similar to buying in person from a legal perspective. When you get an online order from outside the country, it is treated the same as importing it and could result in lengthy prison sentences.

Photo Credit: “White Pink and Yellow Blister Packs – Cr” (CC BY 2.0) by Homedust

Zoom Testing is a leading UK drug testing company and a supplier of Drug Test Kits.

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