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Threat from fake online drugs

The European Alliance for Access to Safe Medicines has revealed that 62 per cent of all medicines purchased online, some being treatments for serious conditions such as cardiovascular disease, are fake or below approved standards

The European Alliance for Access to Safe Medicines (EAASM) has revealed that 62 per cent of all medicines purchased online, some being treatments for serious conditions such as cardiovascular disease, are fake or below approved standards.

According to the findings of The Counterfeiting Superhighway, a new EAASM report, 95.6 per cent of online pharmacies are operating illegally and 94 per cent of websites that sell medicines do not have a named or verifiable pharmacist. EAASM states that there is a three-in-five chance of drugs being fake or substandard if purchased online.

Chair of the EAASM, Jim Thomson, explained that consumers could easily be susceptible to the dangerous consequences of purchasing fake medicines, which can, in some extreme cases, be deadly.

"The report findings are shocking and the story it tells demands action," he said.

"The EAASM calls on all stakeholders, including search engines, credit card companies, shipping companies, patients groups and regulators, to take action and halt this dangerous trend."

The report was published following an EAASM analysis of over 100 online pharmacies, all of which delivered medicines to consumers without physically checking and, in several cases, requesting a prescription. Over 90 per cent of the websites evaluated sell prescription-only medicines without the need for a prescription from a healthcare professional.

President of the European Men's Health Forum, Dr Ian Banks, also expressed alarm over the number of medicines being sold that are accompanied by free and unsolicited tablets - delivered as extras - which had not been medically assessed.

"Far from rewarding consumers with 'bonus' pills, this practice shows that these unscrupulous, criminal online drug traders appear willing to potentially risk the health and well-being of their customers," said Banks.

The alliance has called on search engines such as Google, Yahoo and MSN to employ similar tactics used to curb access to child pornography websites, by removing counterfeit drug pages directly from consumers' search results.

6th June 2008

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