Medicines on the internet
There is a general increase in the number of people using the internet
to purchase all commodities and there is a corresponding increase in the number of people using the
web to self-diagnose and self-prescribe.
Medicines obtained through unregulated internet sites may not have been
prescribed by a healthcare practitioner, may not have been subject to the normal controls on manufacture
and may not be of a suitable quality or be of the nature described. The probability of obtaining fake
or substandard medicines is greatly increased where the normal, regulated system is bypassed. This poses
a very significant health risk.
If you are thinking about buying a medicine from an unauthorised source,
you are strongly urged to consult your doctor or pharmacist.
Further information for consumers on the risks of buying medicines over
the internet is available from:
DHSSPS Medicines Regulatory Group set out to raise awareness around
the dangers of counterfeit products to the general public and healthcare professionals in Northern Ireland,
allowing people to make informed decisions about where they purchase medical products from and making
it easier to report any suspicious medicines.
the sale of illegal medicines online
Operation Pangea is an international
week of action tackling the online sale of counterfeit and illicit medicines and highlighting the dangers
of buying medicines
online. Coordinated by
INTERPOL, the annual operation brings together customs, health regulators, national police and the private
sector from countries around the world.
The operation has gained significant momentum since its launch in 2008
and Northern Ireland was one of 100 countries to contribute to the 2012 Global operational results.
Commenting on the Operation
, Health Minister Poots said: “The
risk to the public due to illegal or counterfeit medicines cannot be understated. It is an issue I take
very seriously and that is why my Department is committed to taking all possible steps to stop the supply
of illegal medicines over the internet".
The Real Danger campaign
The Real Danger national campaign
was created to increase awareness of the risk of buying medicines online. The aim of the campaign was
to ensure the public have sufficient information about counterfeit medicines and recognise the risk
of purchasing medicines online.
In October 2012 DHSSPS Medicines Regulatory
Group re-launched the initiative throughout Northern Ireland. Campaign materials were circulated to
public facing healthcare venues throughout Northern Ireland, including all community pharmacies hospitals
and GP surgeries. For more information about this campaign visit the RealDanger website
Counterfeit medicines: Guidance for pharmacists
The Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain (RPSGB) and the Medicines
and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) in May 2006 jointly published guidance for pharmacists
which explains the causes and consequences of counterfeiting and provides pharmacists with practical
advice on detecting and reporting suspected counterfeit medicines.
Counterfeit medicines: Guidance for pharmacists explains
the background to counterfeit medicine production and highlights how organised criminal gangs have become
involved in the production of illegal medicines and are supplying them through the internet, often to
unwitting patients. The guidance offers pharmacists invaluable practical advice on the correct
steps to take when they encounter suspected counterfeit medicines. These steps include reporting the
situation to the MHRA and ensuring immediate patient safety.
The guidance can be accessed at: