Tuesday, 23 October 2012 13:43
- Purchase of counterfeit medicines a worrying concern
- IPU advises patients to ask their pharmacist first before taking medicines
The Irish Pharmacy Union (IPU) is warning people of the dangers of turning to the internet for healthcare advice and buying medicines. The organisation also warned of the impact on an individual's health from the purchase of counterfeit medicines. A survey carried out on behalf of the IPU earlier this year showed that 40% of people look up medical conditions online while Google Trends shows that Ireland is the seventh highest country worldwide where individuals search for health-related topics. The IPU represents 1,800 community pharmacists in Ireland.
Rory O'Donnell, President of the IPU, said "We are concerned that people are turning to the internet to self-diagnose. The information online may not always be correct and your symptoms could worsen if you do not receive the correct advice."
Pharmacists are also concerned about people going online to buy medicines. This is especially the case after recent reports of an 18-year-old girl who bought diet pills online having to have her colon removed after developing a life-threatening illness. It is important that people always seek advice from their pharmacist before taking any medication.
A report by Pfizer in 2010, "Cracking Counterfeit Europe", outlined that Ireland is the sixth worse in Europe for activity concerned with counterfeiting medicines. The research shows how one in five (21%) of the 1,000 people in Ireland surveyed, equating to over 600,000 people in the total population, admitted to buying prescription only medicines from illicit sources, including online.
"If you buy medicines from the internet you have no way of knowing whether the medicines are counterfeit or genuine. You have no idea what a counterfeit medicine really contains, so you are putting your health at risk by taking these medicines," Mr O' Donnell said.
Community pharmacists, who are the most accessible part of the health service, are encouraging more patients to ask them for advice on their health and medicines, rather than turning to the internet.
"Pharmacists as healthcare professionals are often the first port of call within the healthcare system. We encourage people to drop in and ask their pharmacist first for advice," Mr O' Donnell concluded.