Stay Safe Online

If you live in a country where the sale of prescription medicines over the internet is allowed, there may be very good reasons for you to take advantage of the opportunity.

For example, you may lead a busy lifestyle and not have the time to visit the community pharmacy.  You may have a disability or other condition that makes it hard to leave home.  Perhaps you live in a remote location, making it hard to get to the community pharmacy.  There are many reasons why you might want to use the internet, a convenient way to shop for your medicine.

Think about the pharmacy.  If you were visiting your local community pharmacy, you would probably expect to notice certain things.  Even before entering the shop, you'd likely be surprised if the sign above the door said something totally different to the name of the pharmacy.  For example, if the sign read something like "Pop-Up Pharmacy - Cheap Drugs Today"  would you really entrust your health and well being to such a place.  Upon entering, if, instead of a segregated area for prescription medicines, you saw piles of unmarked boxes on the floor, including vials of liquids that you might think should be refigerated, how would you feel?

At this point, you might still give the pharmacist the benefit of the doubt.  Perhaps it's been a busy day.  That is, if you could find a pharmacist.  What if there were only a few suspicious characters in jeans and T shirts, filling out orders from a picking list?  You might offer one of these characters a prescription, only to be laughed at for not realising that you don't need one of those in this particular establishment.  What if you realised that you had forgotten your prescription, only to be told "No problem buddy, you don't need one of those here! Oh, and would you like to buy-one-get-one-free?  Just let me have your credit card and I'll pop next door to process your payment."

Buy medicines online, and unless you are extremely careful, you will put up with all of these things and more, probably without even realising it.  All of the above, and more, is typical of the prevailing illegal online environment.  Of course, you can avoid it, and you can stay safe.  You just need to know how.

Check the URL.  This is the sign above the door.  When you click on the name of a pharmacy in your search results, does the same name appear in the address bar on your browser?  If not be very wary.

Does the online pharmacy have a physical address?  Does this place actually exist?  In most countries where online pharmacy is legal, the existence of a bricks and mortar pharmacy is a requirement.

Where is this pharmacy?  Does it profess to be in, for example, the UK?  If so, why not use google maps or streetview to see if you can see it?

Try the telephone number (if there is one).  Is it answered?  If so, does the respondent answer using the name of the pharmacy, or some general greeting?

Is it registered with the National Competent Authority?  If it seems to be, be sure to check whether the registration is genuine by examining the NCA's own listings.  Registrations have been faked in the past.

Who is the Pharmacist?  Most countries require a named pharmacist to be associated with the website, and named on it.  You can also check this person's registration.

Prescription required?  Does the online pharmacy require sight of a prescription before filling your order?  If, instead, it offers an "online consultation" (which is only legal in some countries) what steps are taken to ensure that the medicine is right for you (pharmacists are required to carry out such checks)?

Product information.  Does the website offer you patient information on how to store and take the medicine, side effects or interactions, or how to dispose of unused medicines?

BOGOF!!  Common sense would probably dictate that if a website offers a BOGOF - buy-one-get-one-free, or mix-n-match schemes, it is probably not a legitimate pharmacy.  Similarly, you would probably be suspicious if the shopkeeper went next door with your credit card.

However, criminals know that many people inadvertantly suspend common sense when online.  If you think otherwise, or if you think that you wouldn't be fooled by a website that fails any or all of the above tests, then why not turn detective and take a look for yourself?

Be a smart buyer.  ASOP EU partner, the Alliance for Access to Safe Medicines (EAASM), carried out a patient safety audit of online pharmacies in five EU Member States.  If you live in the UK, Germany, France, Italy or Spain, click here to see how your country fared.

Online pharmacies are not all operated by criminals!  If you are satisfied you have found a good online source for your medicine and decide to go ahead and order, it's important that you continue to be vigilant once it arrives.  to continue the detective analogy, once the medicine is delivered, you have some physical evidence to work with.  Why not follow our list of "Top Tips" to make sure that the package that arrives really is what it says it is. 

Outside of Europe, you can find extra tips from the Partnership for Safe Medicine, to help you stay safe, by clicking here.


Stay Safe Online!






News from ASOP EU

New scientific article aims to help simplify fake medicine terminology

4 Apr 2017

A new in depth analysis of the evolution of the descriptions applied to falsified, counterfeit and fake medicines has just been published. It aims to help clarify and simplify this hitherto controversial area. With the number of increasing illegally operating websites selling medicines across the world clear and easy to understand descriptors which will help to make public awareness raising campaigns more effective.

ASOP EU member adopts top level domain name .pharmacy

23 Mar 2017

To help ensure absolute security and recognition of a genuine fully legal online seller of medicines, the web page of the European Association of Mail Service Pharmacies (EAMSP) recently became the first in Europe to switch its Top Level Domain to .pharmacy. 

EAASM and ASOP EU to be present at the 22nd Congress of the European Association Of Hospital Pharmacists 22-24 March 2017.

10 Mar 2017

Mike Isles will be speaking on “Falsified Medicines: The Role of the Pharmacist in Raising Patient Awareness.




ASOP EU Members


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