Study into Antibiotics Suggests Illegal 'Online Pharmacies' Still Clog Search Engines
20th February 2017
tabletsA new study into antibiotic use suggests that many people are still facing the both dangerous and difficult task of sifting through the illegal pharmaceutical websites that are flooding Google and other search engines. Often these illicit websites are posing as online pharmacies when in fact the grim reality could not be further from the truth. More often than not, it is an illegal website being operated overseas and being used to send unknowing patients cheaply made counterfeit drugs that can be fatal to one’s health. These drugs are commonly produced in disgusting conditions and can contain any number of toxic ingredients inside. For the study, scientists based at Imperial College London looked at the availability of various antibiotic medication and discovered, according to an article in the Daily Mail, that “antibiotics were illegally available without prescription on 45 per cent of the first 20 online pharmacy websites”. However, this could be viewed as a confusing statement, especially when the article added “These companies were either abroad – in India or Cyprus – or were unregistered firms with no record of their host country.” Which online pharmacies did the researchers look at? The first 20 that were displayed on their search or did they pick 20 at random? Not all online pharmacies at the top of Google’s search engine for example are based abroad and any properly registered online pharmacy with The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) would not be illegally providing medicines. Therefore, it seems highly likely that they weren’t genuine ‘online pharmacies’ whatsoever, but in fact overseas-based dubious websites that were unfortunately high up the search engines and quickly accessible. These websites should not be lumped into the same category as genuine online pharmacies, such as Medical Specialists®, who have GMC-registered doctors on board and whom will only ever write a prescription for prescription-only medication following an extensive a thorough online consultation covering all aspects of the patient’s health and suitability for said medication. From the study, it was discovered that only 30 per cent of websites bothered to ask patients any health questions at all prior to the purchase of drugs. This is alarming and would indeed point to an increasing trend of fake and illegal online pharmacy websites populating the search engines. Patients who comes to the Medical Specialists® website can expect to answer up to 40 questions regarding their health and the nature of the problem they are suffering from. This slightly lengthy process is imperative so the doctors can obtain a full picture of the health problem at hand and determine if the patient is suitable for the medication. The article then goes on to say “But shockingly, the researchers found that 80 per cent of websites, including at least one legally registered British firm, allowed patients to choose the dose, duration and type of antibiotic even if a prescription was provided.” We are not sure how patients can choose their dose however, as there are set doses in place for medicines to treat certain health conditions. It is not possible to simply decide to choose whatever dosage you deem fit and the duration to take the drug for. Moreover, if a patient has been administered a prescription by a doctor or other type of prescriber, the patient is only permitted to have the drug, dose and quantity listed on the prescription. There is no room for manoeuvre in this aspect and the patient cannot change what they have been prescribed. If the aforementioned paragraph is true, this must surely be emanating from illegal websites with seemingly no restrictions, no consultations, etc. and freely dishing out medications – and probably counterfeit ones at that. For example, if a patient sends a NHS or private prescription to Medical Specialists® to dispense for them, our doctors and/or pharmacists cannot in any way alter the prescription at the patient’s request, and can only dispense what the prescriber has authorised. After being online for more than 15 years and fully registered with the MHRA, our patients at Medical Specialists® know that we offer a prompt and caring service and can rest assure that they are dealing with a safe and secure legal website.