Tuesday 20 February 2018

Do you buy your medicines on the internet?

Around 70,000 Irish people buy drugs online

HPRA chief executive Lorraine Nolan Photo: Naoise Culhane
HPRA chief executive Lorraine Nolan Photo: Naoise Culhane
Eilish O'Regan

Eilish O'Regan

Around 852,000 Irish adults now rely on the internet as a source of information on medicines and 70,000 have already bought drugs online.

Another 284,000 people admit they would consider buying medicines online even though two in three are concerned about the safety and authenticity of the drugs.

The findings have emerged in a survey commissioned by the medicines watchdog, the Health Products Regulatory Authority (HPRA), which advises people not to buy prescription medicines online.

Four in 10 are even using the internet to self-diagnose illness.

Other worrying results show that even though one in three adults is on long-term medication, and are taking two to three medicines on average, high numbers are not bothering to read drugs leaflets.

Side effects

Men are worse than women in this regard, and the risk of not reading the leaflets is that they will miss out on important changes regarding how often the medicine should be taken, potential side effects or adverse reactions to be on the alert for.

Lorraine Nolan, chief executive of the HPRA, said: “We encourage people to always read this information and not just the first time that they take a new medicine.”

She said significant details, such as how it interacts with other medicines or potential side effects, can change so it is important that those on long-term medication consult the product information regularly.

People turn to the internet to buy drugs for convenience and privacy.

They tend to be lifestyle-related in the main and include slimming products, male impotence medicines or anabolic steroids.

On a more positive note, the results showed that more people are prepared to take a generic medicine which is cheaper in price than its branded equivalent.

Some 44pc said they have taken a generic drug, up from 33pc in 2013.

The usage is highest among women who are 35-64 years of age. However, while 88pc said the experience was positive, this was down from 92pc in 2013. Some 7pc had a negative experience.

Irish Independent

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