Posted by: Sara Valente12 MAR 2012
ACTA, also known as the Anti Counterfeiting Trade Agreement, is a new piece of law that is being considered around the world that will enforce strict legal consequences for online piracy. This includes all kinds of goods such as pirated movies, music and even counterfeit medicines. It has caused a lot of controversy as it could mean that virtually nothing will be ‘free’ on the internet and websites such as Wikipedia may have to shut down. However, in terms of pharmacy, it could be of benefit because the selling of counterfeit medicine can be stopped which will prevent serious problems. I’m not entirely sure that ACTA will be a good thing for the internet but an article came to my attention that described how illegal internet pharmacies were using social websites to advertise their counterfeit drugs¹. Does it scare you when you search for, let’s say, a television on Google and then all of a sudden you are seeing TV adverts on every page you visit thereafter including Facebook and your e-mail? The internet is growing in intelligence, it remembers what items you search for and will show you adverts that tailor to your needs. It’s like a creepy best friend. It makes sense that you only see adverts that are relevant to you since advertising companies are paying a lot of money to use web space. It is not right that illegal pharmacies are abusing this power by targeting vulnerable people on the internet. It is easy for them to market a drug without giving proper advice on what it actually is. This seemed to be the case with ‘The Pink Patch’ which was a dieting phenomenon amongst young girls several years ago that has since been shut down. There is little that pharmacists can do to prevent people buying drugs over the internet as it is social media sites who need to control their site content. I suppose that if a pharmacist found out someone was buying medicine from the internet they would certainly make sure that their customer knew exactly what they were buying and if it was from a legitimate source.
¹ Article can be found here: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/facebook/9110377/Facebook-and-YouTube-used-by-illegal-pharmacies-to-target-children.html