University of Portsmouth scientists warn about internet sales of drugs

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SCIENTISTS from the University of Portsmouth are calling for tighter controls on websites selling drugs to the public without prescription.

Prof David Brown and his colleagues warn the unregulated online sale of statins – commonly used to treat high cholesterol – pose a risk to the public because they fail to highlight potential side-effects.

They also say many sites fail to warn of the risks of taking the drugs in conjunction with other medicines, after examining information on more than 180 websites from at least 17 countries.

Prof Brown said: ‘Statins are prescription-only medicines in the UK and should only be taken as directed by the patient’s doctor. But we should remember that all medicines carry associated hazards.

‘These data imply that adverts are designed to hide information from patients to widen the number of people who think that they can safely take the medicine to increase sales, or lack of research during site development.’

The research also highlighted sites offering free prescription medication with an order of statins – in many cases drugs for erectile dysfunction.