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Warning over buying online Prescription drugs

27 March, 2007

Sinn Féin Health Spokesperson, Upper Bann MLA John O'Dowd has warned against buying prescription drugs online, saying patients could be taking serious risks with their health.

Mr O'Dowd said:

"The amount of prescription drugs that are now being bought online is very worrying, particularly as they are being bought without the safeguards of traditional procedures for prescribing drugs.

"The growth of the internet is relentless and from the perspective of patients seeking information, it is in the main positive. However, the online availability of controlled and uncontrolled drug therapies needs to be carefully monitored.

"People must be wary of others who are using the Internet as an outlet for products or practices that are already illegal in the offline world. These so-called 'rogue sites' either sell unapproved products, or if they deal in approved ones, often sidestep established procedures meant to protect consumers. For example, some sites require customers only to fill out a questionnaire before ordering prescription drugs, bypassing any face-to-face interaction with a health professional.

"There's nothing wrong with having your prescriptions filled by a safe, reputable Internet pharmacy. You can enjoy the benefits of comparing prices and purchasing your medications without having to leave home. But unsafe and illegal pharmacies can be hiding behind Web sites that look professional and sound legitimate.

"If people are tempted to order prescription drugs from a questionable Web site, they need to ask themselves if the potential financial savings is worth the risk to their health and life. They may be not only be taking the chance that the medication they receive may not work, but the risk is that it could be life-threatening." ENDS

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