UK public 'unsure how to spot a fake pharmacy'

More than half (54 per cent) of UK consumers have said they have no idea how to spot a rogue online pharmacy, according to a new survey.

The poll - carried out by an Oxfordshire pharmacy that operates both bricks-and-mortar and online dispensaries -found that 39 per cent of people surveyed were unaware of the mandatory logos that allow consumers to check whether the site they are sourcing medicines from is genuine.

Around the same proportion of the 1,000 people polled also said they had come across an online pharmacy they believed to be untrustworthy. Meanwhile, 41 per cent of those who had never used an online pharmacy said the fear of inadvertently getting a counterfeit drug was behind their decision.

Oxford Online Pharmacy - run by the Frost Phamacy Group - said the results reveal a high level of confusion amongst the UK public about buying drugs online.

Owner Stuart Gale said: "The convenience of an online pharmacy, along with the discretion such a service provides for managing certain embarrassing conditions, is clearly something which appeals to customers."

"However, with so many counterfeit medicines making their way onto the market and almost daily horror stories of people suffering and even dying from taking them, it is not surprising that consumers don't know where to turn."

Among the 40 per cent who had come across a rogue pharmacy, the majority (31 per cent) said the offer of prescription-only medication without a prescription was the tell-tale sign that a site was selling counterfeit drugs.

All told, 44 per cent said the existence of a bricks-and-mortar arm of the business would give them confidence the site was legitimate.

"Any steps taken by the industry to reassure consumers is to be encouraged. But, as our research shows, the message isn't getting through," said Gale.

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