Buying medicines online, false claims and real risks

nealpatel2By Neal Patel,MRPharmS

The most recent tragic death from taking the chemical DNP in order to lose weight has highlighted yet again the risks of buying online from unregulated websites.

Criminals are involved in this illegal supply, providing you with chemicals like DNP, which they promote as a slimming aid.  It’s actually a pesticide and unfit for human consumption.

Websites may offer to provide you with prescription medicines without a prescription, but when we have tested these products they either contain nothing at all or substances that can serious harm your health.  Those running these websites don’t care about your health, they only care about getting your cash, and there’s no recourse if things go wrong.

Anyone who is worried about any aspect of their health should first have a conversation with a health professional – such as a pharmacist – who can provide you with the right advice and the right treatment.  In the case of weight loss there’s no quick fix.  The advice about healthy eating remains sound, and importantly, is safe.

Not all sites are dangerous. UK registered pharmacies provide a professional service online and are useful for people who may not be able to visit their local pharmacy because of illness or disability.

If you are embarrassed about health issues the privacy offered by the internet may seem attractive. However, buying medicines from an unregulated website means risking your health with a fake or dangerous product – too much of the active ingredient can mean ending up in hospital with an overdose.

We are used to buying lots of things online – music, books, clothes, bikes – but medicines are not regular consumer products. If you want to buy medicines online stick with a registered UK pharmacy run by a pharmacist, or better still pop in for a face-to-face consultation.  Around 90% of pharmacies now have a private area where you can have a conversation without being overheard.

One way to make sure your chosen site is legitimate is to check the registration status of the pharmacist with the body that regulates them, the General Pharmaceutical Council.  Look for the name and address of the pharmacy operating the website, then use this link to look them up.

Please share this message and raise awareness of the risks of buying from websites selling products with claims that sound too good to be true. These sites often sell products that are illegal, dangerous or fake. The risks, sadly, are all too real.