Pharmacists warn on online swine flu drug purchases

Pharmacists have issued a warning to the public about the risks of buying online medicines for swine influenza, such as Tamiflu or Relenza.

Photograph: JH Lancy
Photograph: JH Lancy

David Pruce, director of policy at the the Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain (RPSGB), said: ‘With the current fears about swine flu, we are concerned that unscrupulous people are exploiting the public’s fears about swine flu by offering to sell the antiviral drugs Tamiflu and Relenza over the internet.

‘This is a golden opportunity for counterfeiters to offer fake supplies of these drugs. People can be at real risk if they buy medicines from unknown sources.

‘In particular, the public should not be taken in by spam emails offering to supply Tamiflu or Relenza. Most of the drugs offered in this way turn out to be counterfeit and may contain anything from sugar to more dangerous substances that can seriously put health at risk.’

Currently, 2% of global internet spam is for adverts offering drugs for swine flu.

Earlier this month an exclusive GP newspaper poll revealed one in four GPs had treated patients for adverse reactions to medicines bought online.

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