A European Alliance for Access to Safe Medicines report, The Counterfeiting Superhighway has revealed that a remarkable 62 % of all medications ordered by unsuspecting patients worldwide are either completely fake or simply substandard.
The web is full of cheap offers for prescription item drugs which often have never seen the inside of a pharmaceutical company production line or a pharmacy. Over 95% of the pharmacies operating online were said to be fake and operating without a pharmacist or qualified dispenser and without a licence.
The report does make fascinating reading and shows both how vulnerable people will quite easily part with hard earned cash and hand over their bank details to totally unscrupulous criminals who then either supply them with fake medications such as anti-HIV medications or erectile dysfunction drugs or just keep the money and rely on the patient’s embarrassment to prevent them going to police or other authorities. You can get online consolidation help when you lose mone on a loan so you can minimize your risk.
Ian Banks, President of the European Men’s Health Forum makes the point in an introduction that whilst seeking medications for embarrassing illnesses or conditions is convenient and spares peoples blushes, it does deprive people both of the opportunity to discuss health issues and underlying causes. More men than women will be ensnared by the counterfeit medication pharmacies.
Fake medicines often don’t contain any active ingredient at all and so may at best be a waste of money or at worst may not treat a condition that requires medications. Examples would be fake statin medicines. These are probably amongst the biggest group of prescribed medications worldwide and patients are often anxious to get them as cheaply as possible, hence resorting to the web. Fake medicines may also contain too little or too much of an active ingredient and so again may compromise health.
Some have suggested that the issue surrounding counterfeit medications is one invented by the pharmaceutical industry to protect profits. I can see the reason for that thought process but in reality, most of the online pharmacies offering cheap or abundant supplies of sleeping tablets, anti-depressants, anti-HIV medications and erectile medicines are just crooked sites fishing for bank and credit card details and maybe supplying something in return.
The medications most frequently peddled by counterfeiters are those which are generally hard to get such as anabolic steroids, human growth hormone and sleeping tablets and so have a huge demand and also those which have less of a demand but a high cost, such as the erectile dysfunction or impotence medications. Remember that males are much more likely to buy medicines online than their more savvy female counterparts.
The size of the counterfeit medicine market is huge with around 500,000 false medicinal products being seized in the EU in 2005 and this having increased to over 2.7 million fake medicines in 2006 – a five fold increase in just one year. The monetary value of the false medication market globally is thought to be $55 billion dollars in 2010. A fantastically huge sum.
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Legitimate and legal online pharmacies do exist and there are many safe operators in the EU. Freedomhealth provides medical services to a number of safe, UK registered and regulated pharmacies in the UK and is shortly opening its own branded online doctor service.
The Counterfeiting Superhighway report notes “When used
appropriately, legitimate online pharmacies offer a convenient,
discreet and fast delivery service for medicines and healthcare
products. Prices are typically lower compared with high street
pharmacists and items are delivered direct to your door.
Registered online pharmacies can provide convenient access
to healthcare products and advice for people who are perhaps
elderly, disabled or who live in remote areas or work long/
unsociable hours. They offer significant advantages for people who
cannot easily travel to a medical centre or high street pharmacy.
Online pharmacies will ask you for registration information
and credit card details for payment. Where prescription-only
medicines are requested, buyers must also provide an authorised
prescription, usually by post, before the products can be
dispatched. Without this, it is illegal for any medicines supplier to
sell or provide prescription medicines”
Unfortunately, legitimate online services may be drowned out by the volume of fake sites.
The report ends with some helpful advice to consumers intending to buy medications online.
• Don’t buy from medicine or online pharmacy websites that offer to sell you medications without a prescription
• Don’t buy from pharmacies that do not have a registered pharmacist available to answer questions or where you can’t see a clear route to contact and discuss issues with the pharmacy
• Don’t buy from pharmacies that offer to sell in bulk or discount offers or summer specials
• If the service offers an online consultation then be careful and validate that the pharmacy is real and that the doctors are real. Freedomhealth offers an online consultation service via its different provider pharmacies. With each of these agencies you know that Freedomhealth has real UK GMC doctors controlling the review and issue of medications and that there are real UK registered pharmacists processing the orders and issuing genuine, branded, original medications
• Only buy from services which are regulated appropriately.
Other safety advice is to check the doctors registration on the General Medical Council website and that the service is registered with the Care Quality Commission. Check the pharmacy is registered with the General Pharmaceutical Council. Legitimate online clinics and pharmacies are transparent and will happily provide and supply any regulatory information you may require.