Wednesday, 14 October 2009

Over 90% drugs sold online are fake or illegal

This report by EAASM looks at the widespread trade in prescription drugs over the internet. In many countries supply of these drugs are strictly controlled, partly because they can be very dangerous when not taken with the advice of a medical doctor but also partly because it is important to control quality - if a particular batch of a drug is found to be causing unexpected problems it can be withdrawn from public consumption.

Unfortunately these drugs can be very expensive when purchased via normal routes, or not available at all if the health authority budget cannot pay for them. Websites offering what are apparently the same drugs at much lower prices then become a tempting proposition for some and many might for example supplement drugs they have been prescribed with a much cheaper supply purchased over the internet.

Why are these drugs cheaper when purchased over the internet? The group who published this report purchased 30 different drugs from over 100 of the websites who supply prescription drugs, ignoring those that were obviously fraudulent. Quoting the article:
  • 62% of medicines purchased online are fake or substandard

  • 95.6% of online pharmacies researched are operating illegally.

  • 94% of websites do not have a named, verifiable pharmacist.

  • Over 90% of websites supply prescription-only medicines without a prescription.

So legality apart, over six out of ten of the purchased drugs were fake or of poor quality. At best they would do nothing but considering many of these were vital for life threatening conditions doing nothing could be lethal. The substances used to make the fakes were also found to be toxic in some cases.
Equally dangerous is that very few of these companies asked any questions about the health of the person ordering the drugs or what else they were taking - again with potentially lethal consequences. Most drugs supplied did not arrive with so much as an information leaflet for the patient to read - though many of these are also available online it isn't easy be sure to find the right one.

One of the comments I have read on this issue was that these drug suppliers are providing a valuable service to the lower paid. Drug companies are also said to be profiteering when a drug can be purchased in an adjacent country at far lower prices. The answer to this is clear, these drugs are cheaper because they aren't what you think they are, they come with little or no medical advice and if they are the drug you purchased they are most often out of date and/or stored under poor conditions leading to important dosages lacking consistancy.

If you value your health at all this isn't the way to save money.

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