On the Agenda - GPs voice concerns on internet drugs

In a nutshell

One in four GPs have treated a patient suffering from unpleasant side-effects after buying restricted or banned drugs on the internet, a new poll suggests. A further eight per cent of GPs suspected they might have treated side-effects of drugs purchased online, according to the survey conducted for GP magazine.

The background

The Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain has estimated that two million Britons regularly buy drugs over the internet, a figure that is thought to be on the rise. This includes those who purchase medicines prescribed by their doctor from a legitimate online pharmacy.

Why is this a problem?

Internet pharmacies often promote 'lifestyle' medicines for embarrassing conditions such as erectile dysfunction, hair-loss treatments and anti-depressants. Also, people are purchasing drugs that may not be available via the NHS because of cost restrictions.

Media coverage

The story achieved coverage in the Daily Mail, The Daily Telegraph, Daily Mirror, Metro and BBC news online. The original story, written by GP's clinical news editor Tom Moberly, was also covered on BBC TV London and Radio 1's Newsbeat. In addition, GP editor Emma Bower spoke on BBC Radio 5 and BBC Newcastle about the results and the story appeared on many local newspapers' sites.

PR support

The story was press released by GP deputy editor Neil Durham and was sent to healthcare correspondents on the nationals and to broadcast media.

2m - Britons regularly buy drugs over the internet

85% of GPs want online chemists to be better regulated

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