RPS backs regulator’s guidance on buying medicines online

The pharmacy regulator has published guidance for people looking to buy medicines online, telling the public to be wary of sites that fail to ask for a medical history.

Sandra Gidley

The Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) is one of nine healthcare bodies backing new General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) guidance for patients ordering medicines or treatment online.

Published on 13 March 2020, ‘How to keep safe when getting medicines or treatment online’ includes six tips for patients considering an online purchase. These include checking whether the service, and the healthcare professionals working for it, are registered with UK regulators; being expected to be asked for consent for information to be shared with regular healthcare professionals, and being honest when asked about health and medical history.

Patients should never use websites that send medicines without asking for a medical history, the guidance emphasises.

It’s also important, the guidance states, that patients ask clearly whether they will be charged for the service, and for the name of the healthcare professional responsible for following up with the patient in case any further treatment may be needed.

Sandra Gidley, president of the RPS, said that it is “important to recognise there are benefits and risks to buying medicines online”.

“Keeping patients safe is essential as there are many unregulated sites out there which look legitimate.

“The guidance builds on recommendations from across healthcare that will help people to avoid illegal sites and help protect patients from fake medicine, or obtaining prescription-only medicines without a prescription.”

Duncan Rudkin, chief executive of the GPhC, said the regulator was “launching this guide at a time when the UK is dealing with the worldwide coronavirus outbreak”.

“Depending on how the situation develops, we recognise that more people may go online to get their medicines or other treatment.

“The advice in this guide will help [the public] avoid any websites operating illegally and offering fake or inappropriate medicines that could cause them serious harm”.

Last updated
The Pharmaceutical Journal, RPS backs regulator's guidance on buying medicines online;Online:DOI:10.1211/PJ.2020.20207831

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