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Safety fears raised over drugs sold online

20 August, 2007

Sinn Féin Health spokesperson Carál Ní Chuilín has said news from Analysis Industry fraud advisers MarkMonitor about the safety of buying prescription drugs online has confirmed earlier fears Sinn Féin had raised about the issue.

Ms Ní Chuilín said:

"There are well founded fears about the amount of prescription drugs that are now being bought online and that they are being bought without the safeguards of traditional procedures for prescribing drugs.

"Now leading Analysis Industry fraud advisers MarkMonitor have said that a study of over 3,000 sites shows medicines for sale without a prescription with some medicines likely to be counterfeit or out of date. This included popular prescription drugs for problems such as weight loss. The study also found that found half of the sites did not safeguard customer details.

"Its shocking that 3,000 online pharmacies were found to be selling one or more of these drugs, and only four had a Verified Internet Pharmacy Practice Site accreditation (a scheme set up by US pharmacy boards) although many others falsely claimed they had.

"The growth of the internet is relentless, and from the perspective of patients seeking information, this 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.

"If people are tempted to order prescription drugs from a questionable website, they need to ask themselves if the potential financial savings is worth the risk. It may not just be that the medication won't work, the risk could be life-threatening." ENDS

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