icon Dangers of buying medicines from Online pharmacy's
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Dangers of buying medicines from Online pharmacy's

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Many people now use the internet to find out more about their health and to order prescription medication online.

However, many sites selling medicines aren't registered pharmacies so it is possible to be unsafe to buy from them.

Online pharmacies often sell medicine online, including Viagra for erectile problems and Lipitor (Atorvastatin) which lowers cholesterol.

This is dangerous because medicines should only be administered by a qualified healthcare professional. It is important to get advice from a healthcare professional about whether or not a medicine is right for you. They will also advise you on the dose, side effects, and possible interactions with other medications.

Unregistered medicine could pose a danger to your health as it may be out-of-date, diluted, or fake.

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Online ordering of medicines

Online pharmacies must have a valid prescription to dispense prescription-only medications. You will need a prescription from a doctor or other healthcare professional to order prescription-only medicines online.

If you prefer, you can mail the prescription. However, an email prescription will not suffice. After the prescription is received, the medicine will be dispensable and sent to the address provided.

You can also use online prescription services. This allows you to have an online consultation, and then a prescription is sent to a pharmacy.

It can be hard to tell the difference between online pharmacies that are registered and those on commercial websites. The General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC), voluntary internet pharmacy logo scheme identifies legit online pharmacies that have joined this scheme. This allows you to be certain you are buying genuine and safe medicines online.

To check if a website has been run by a licensed pharmacy that meets UK standards, and is legal to sell medicine to the public, you can use the GPhC register.

Get the GPhC's guidance on purchasing medicines online safely


When people attempt to diagnose their own conditions and then order prescription medication online without a prescription, problems can arise. This medicine website is illegal.

These are just a few of the things you should be looking out for.

  • Always buy your medication from a licensed pharmacy.
  • Without a valid prescription, it's not a good idea for you to take prescription medicines. You may have side effects that are not pleasant or could pose serious health risks.
  • You should not consider medicines as regular consumer goods. Fake medicine can be dangerous to your health.
  • Don't be fooled by emails claiming to sell cheap medication. It is possible to fall for something that seems too good to be true.
  • When ordering medicine online, look for the Internet Pharmacy logo.
  • You can also verify the status of the registered pharmacist by searching for the name of the pharmacy that operates the website. It should be connected with a bricks-and-mortar pharmacy.
  • Disreputable websites may sell medicine that is of poor quality and potentially dangerous. You could get a substandard, counterfeit or unapproved medicine in the mail, which could put your safety at stake.

Are you new to the internet?

There is a lot of information available online, but how can you tell which sites are trustworthy?

This online guide for using the internet by Learn My Way offers advice and tips on how to navigate the internet to find health information. It also builds confidence and shows you how to stay safe online.

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