A survey for The Independent Pharmacy suggests that 83% of the population do not know how to check if a medicine they have purchased online is legitimate.
The research also suggested:
- 28 million people in the UK say they would buy medicine online
- 25-34-year-olds are most likely to be aware of how to check whether a site (54%) and the medicine it sells (53%) is safe and legitimate
- 14% of 18-24-year-olds say they do not know how to check if their medicine is legitimate, and this figure increases to 53% for 25-34 year olds
- Over half of the UK say they’re unaware that all online pharmacies aren’t regulated to the same extent.
- 94% of over 55s do not know how to check if a medicine they bought online is authentic.
Scott McDougall, co-founder and registered manager of The Independent Pharmacy, said: “Buying medicine safely off the internet isn’t always easy. Not only are online pharmacies not regulated to the same extent, but some are also completely illegal and unregistered.
“Unless the millions of people that buy medicine online know how to spot a legitimate online pharmacy and check medicine authenticity, they could be putting their health at risk.”
The Independent Pharmacy has published a guide advising people how they can purchase medicine online safely.
They outline that legitimate online pharmacies assess queries and offer advice, issue a prescription if needed, check and dispense prescriptions, send medication directly to the patient’s door.
Dr Don Grant, clinical lead at The Independent Pharmacy, said: “Typically, the over 55s are the most vulnerable as they often require more medication, and yet they may not be as aware of online safety as younger generations who were brought up with tech.
“Not only is there a need to provide further education on how to identify a safe online pharmacy, but it’s also important to keep an open dialogue with healthcare professionals across the industry about the standards of prescribing sites and medicines to ensure a collaborative future between online and offline providers and encourage safer patient care.”
The Independent Pharmacy has created a guide to online healthcare to help people stay safe and protected when buying medicine online.