London: Are online pharmacies and buying midicines online are really safe? The question is being asked ever since the idea started becoming popular with the growth of online trade and e-commerce.
Though there is a section, including some state agents, who are of the opinion to promote online pharmacies, like other online stores, a health watchdog warns that the idea is not without risk especially when they are offering drugs without carrying out proper checks.
"They are handing out potentially dangerous drugs to patients who may be underage, unsuitable or at risk of developing severe side effects", the health watchdog warns.
"Patients are often being assessed by pharmacy staff – over the internet – who have little or no medical training. And they are doling-out statins, antibiotics and heart disease drugs, as well as powerful antidepressants, which should not be dispensed without a face-to-face check", The Care Quality Commission says according to Daily Mail.
One sold a patient 840 painkillers in one batch while another was selling unlicensed medications which hadn’t yet had rigorous safety checks, according to the report.
Around two million Britons are thought to regularly buy medications from online pharmacies, although many more purchase drugs online from time to time.
"But they are becoming increasingly popular due to the difficulties in securing a GP appointment, which is leading many patients to diagnosing themselves over the internet", the report says.
Some of the best known online pharmacies include Pharmacy First and Doctor Fox. They sell over-the-counter items as well as prescription medication including the morning-after pill, antibiotics and blood pressure pills.
Last month a study accused online pharmacies of handing out drugs too freely, fuelling the rise of resistant superbugs.