An increasing number of people are risking their lives by buying medicines over the internet before seeing their GP.
The number of prescriptions supplied by online pharmacies has doubled in two years, from 26 million in 2019 to 53 million.
Reliable websites help lighten the load on high street pharmacies.
But as patients struggle to see a GP, many are turning to Google and self-diagnosing before buying online.
Professor Kamila Hawthorne, chair of the Royal College of GPs, told Sun on Sunday Health: Buying prescription medicines online without seeking the advice of a qualified professional about its risks and benefits and whether they might interact with other medicines is a real threat to patient safety .
Dr Jeff Foster of Sun on Sunday said some medicines are prescribed only after a short online questionnaire, without any interaction with the patient’s GP or checks that the patient is telling the truth.
He said: We have doctors and pharmacists for a reason and medicines should never be purchased through an online questionnaire.
A disclaimer that says: We told you to be careful is terrifying.
Without knowing the patient and the full picture of their medical history, risk factors, pre-existing conditions and lifestyle habits, many of these drugs can put patients’ lives at risk.
The situation is so bad that the General Pharmaceutical Council has issued a safety alert, warning that some online pharmacies distribute drugs without proper oversight.
Hawthorne added: Before taking any new medicine, patients should first consult their GP or a qualified healthcare professional to take into account physical, psychological and social factors before deciding on the appropriate treatment.
“We will consider various treatment options for each patient and only recommend medications that are appropriate for their individual health needs.
Dr. Jeff reveals the best types of drugs people are now buying online and explains the risks of getting it wrong…
Embarrassed by their symptoms, men often buy Viagra online without finding out why erectile dysfunction has occurred.
It could be anxiety, testosterone deficiency even narrowing of the arteries.
Risk: If narrowing of the arteries is the underlying cause, you have an average of three years before a heart attack or stroke.
So proper supervision is vital.
MEDS like zopiclone, zolpidem, diazepam and temazepam are popular.
But GPs find out about pre-existing medical conditions, other medications and risks including alcohol intake and obesity before prescribing them, and we monitor them afterward.
Risk: Taking these in high doses or for prolonged periods can lead to addiction, sedation and even respiratory arrest or death.
DRUGS FOR HAIR LOSS
YOU can buy all kinds of drugs that claim to cure male hair loss, but only a couple actually work.
Minoxidil is a topical foam or spray, and finasteride is a prescription drug that can also be used to treat large benign prostates in higher doses.
Risk: Finasteride can lead to sexual problems, including impotence, if prescribed incorrectly.
Many online patients are not warned about this risk.
WEIGHT LOSS INJECTABLES
Initially, Saxenda and Wegovy were used to treat type 2 diabetes, but their use as a weight loss tool has exploded.
They affect the hormones that make you feel full, with many users reporting that their cravings for overeating disappear.
Risk: People with normal body weight are accessing this medicine online, which is worrying.
Those with eating disorders could become seriously ill without professional supervision.
A MAIN treatment for ADHD stimulants such as methylphenidate, dexamfetamine, atomoxetine and guanfacine are usually prescribed to increase alertness, attention and energy.
Due to long waiting times from the NHS and inappropriate inquiries for an ADHD diagnosis, many people are turning to trial medicines online.
Risk: These drugs need close monitoring as they can place a significant load on the heart, leading to rapid or irregular heartbeats, high blood pressure, and even heart failure.
WHILE opioid pain relievers, such as codeine and co-codamol, are effective for short-term pain control, the long-term benefits are limited.
But necessarily stricter NHS prescriptions have led people to turn to the internet.
Risk: Opiates are highly addictive and our bodies get used to them, so we need more to experience the same effect.
They cause respiratory depression and slow breathing.
They slow down our reaction times, making us lazy.
The risks are greatly increased when taken with other drugs or alcohol.
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