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Medication safety

MHRA warns students against self-prescribing

The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) has issued a strong warning to students about the risks of self-prescribing and self-medicating with medicines bought online.

It has warned that the sale of prescription-only medicines, such as anti-anxiety medicines and benzodiazepines — often bought through illegal online suppliers — remains prevalent despite repeated warnings against self-medication.

Launching its #FakeMeds campaign, the MHRA hopes to help students avoid buying dangerous or useless medicines sold illegally online.

MHRA head of enforcement, Alastair Jeffrey cautioned that “purchasing medicines outside the regulated supply chain has inherent dangers as there is no assurance of quality and standards.

“Prescription-only medicines are, by their very nature, potent and should only be prescribed by a doctor or appropriate healthcare professional. We would advise people not to buy medicines from unregulated sources as they pose a danger to their health.”

He warned that students in particular should be very careful when buying medicines online.

“Criminals are known to exploit vulnerable people by supplying medicines through unregulated websites and stealing their credit card details,” he said.

Meanwhile, the US Food and Drug Administration has announced a crackdown on more than 500 websites around the world that illegally sell dangerous, unapproved versions of prescriptions medicines.

Operation Pangea X, an annual week of international action tackling the online sale of counterfeit and illicit medicines and highlighting the dangers of buying medicines online coordinated by Interpol, saw the FDA issue warning letters to the operators of the illegal websites and worked with internet registrars to seize domain names and shut down some websites.

Citation: The Pharmaceutical Journal DOI: 10.1211/PJ.2017.20203644

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