Saturday, December 12, 2009

Watch out for snake oil salesmen online!

I came down with a bit of a lung infection during the week and in the course of doing some online research on my ailment, it struck me how many companies are advertising drugs of one sort or another on the web. I never even thought about buying drugs online, seems a bit mad and unsafe to do so. I suppose it should have struck me because my junk email account is full of spam emails selling Viagra.

You can buy non-prescription drugs online, but many of these are available in shops/pharmacies and are generally occasional purchases, so I imagine the online trade in these is minimal. It is of course illegal to buy prescription drugs online for many good reasons. However it would appear that many people do it. Apart from the dangers of self diagnosis, you don't really know what you are getting. You could be paying good money for flour or starch or something a lot more dangerous. If you are not sure about the status of a particular drug, such as whether it is prescription or non-prespription, best to check the Irish Medicine Boards website where they have a database of authorised drugs on sale in Ireland.

Beware the online snake oil salesmen!

I see the Revenue Commissioners intercepted 3,000 items which contained 393,067 prescription pills in 2008 which were purchased over the web. Across the EU the number of sales is staggering, according to the EU Commission over 34 million fake tablets were intercepted in 2 months.

It would appear the market for so called "embarrassment drugs" such as Viagra is high. Many people are still too embarrassed to talk to their doctor about some conditions. This issue needs to be tackled on 2 levels. On the prevention side there is merit I think in a public awareness campaign advising people of the dangers involved. In these times of economic stringency, hard to expect Government to pay for this. It would appear to be the sort of thing that pharmacutical companies cound fund, it would be in their interests to reduce this trade. On the supply side greater efforts need to be taken by public health and enforcement agencies to track down and close down these online snake oil salesmen.