UK pharmacists report escalating illicit medicines use

Pharmacy imageA survey of UK pharmacists has found that 80 per cent have come across patients self-diagnosing and treating themselves with medicines bought over the Internet without a prescription.

The poll by the Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) and ITV's Daybreak programme of 2,500 pharmacists also found that more than 40 per cent of them believed the numbers of people buying prescription-only medicines was on the rise, while 99 per cent of them agreed this was placing their lives at risk.

A resounding 98 per cent of UK pharmacists asked said they thought more needs to be done to tackle the issue, while more than half reported they had come across a patient who they suspected to be addicted to prescription medicines they’d obtained via the Internet without their GP’s knowledge.

RPS spokesperson Neal Patel said: "We are deeply concerned by the results of this survey.  You should never try and get a prescription medicine online without it being authorised by a registered health professional."
English Pharmacy Board member Sibby Buckle told the Daybreak show that "medicines can be life-enhancing, but they can also be life-threatening", pointing out that medicines regulations in the UK are designed to provide some degree of choice when purchasing medicines, but also to protect against harm.

"It's a bad idea to by-pass advice from a health professional before taking prescription medicines," added Neal.  "Diagnosing with Dr Google can lead to dangerous decisions about your health, including becoming addicted to the medicines you decide to take."

In the UK, legitimate online pharmacies must be registered with the General Pharmaceutical Council and carry an official logo.

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