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Friday, September 02, 2005

Illegal online pharmacies put patients at grave risk

The Centre for Reform has just published a report Online Pharmacy: Patient Choice or Patient Peril which suggests a key area of concern is the growth of illegitimate practitioners who will despatch prescription medicines without requiring a prescription (or offering any advice or support) to any web-site applicant, and that there are significant amounts of sub-standard and sometimes counterfeit medicines being sold online.

The report, which was funded by Merck Sharp and Dohme Limited (a pharmaceutical company), argues that the Government should do more to balance this growth by enabling High Street pharmacies to offer a wider range of advice and help to their customers face-to-face and that the Government and online industry must go further with measures to suppress illegitimate web-sites, increase public awareness of the problem and minimise the stigma of approaching a GP for some medical conditions.

This potential "threat to public health", which is also responsible for most of the spam in my email inbox, does need to be addressed, but I have heard it argued that the easy and private access to drugs such as Viagra (erectile dysfunction), Phentermine (weight loss), Xenical (weight loss), Propecia (hair loss) and Adipex from an industry estimated to be worth £8.1 billion next year will not be easy to control.


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