Nowadays, you can do just about anything online: grocery shopping; paying your bills; or even ordering personalised birthday cards. And, as more and more of those everyday chores we carry out can be done so via computer, it’s no wonder that many pharmaceutical companies have also started to get on board and offer their services through the internet. After all, if you’re sick and not feeling well enough to go to the chemist, having medication delivered to your door seems like the perfect solution, doesn’t it?
However, since pharmacies began trading online in the early 2000s, a number of scam artists have also tried to jump in on the action. There are now a startling number of fake pharmacy websites on the net, and besides the fact that they are trading illegally, without a license, a majority of them will be selling products that are unsafe or haven’t been tested. Some of them may even take your money and then deliver nothing at all.
So, when buying medication online, it’s important to be vigilant – not only to protect your wallet, but also to protect your well-being. Only ever buy from reputable, registered pharmacies when shopping for medication online.
If you’re wondering how to spot online pharmacy scams, here are just a handful of hints which might give the game away:
‘No Prescription Required’
To issue prescription-strength medication in the UK, a pharmacy requires a prescription, issued by a qualified healthcare practitioner. This is so that a doctor can assess your suitability to a medication, such as strong pain relief, before issuing it to you. Any website which boasts that it can sell you medication without the need for a prescription is operating outside the law. Simple. Websites must either ask to see a prescription, or at the very least offer an online consultation service with a registered doctor (who will then generate an e-prescription for you) before they can sell you prescription treatment.
No GPhC Link
In order to practice in the UK, a pharmacy must be registered with the General Pharmaceutical Council, which is the regulating body for pharmacies in the UK. Participating pharmacies will often provide a direct link to their entry on the GPhC register. Be wary of those sites which don’t.
No Contact Details
Not listing any contact details is always a tell-tale sign that you’re dealing with dodgy traders. Legitimate companies will always list an address, telephone or other contact details you can reach them on.
If the site you’re looking at is hosting misspelled or badly worded content, or has clearly been put together hastily by someone with little or no concept of web design, then it’s likely a scam. Proper, lawful pharmacies will always employ professionals to put together their online interface, and offer accurate and knowledgeable information about the products they sell.
No Secure Payment Facility
Those websites which offer a safe and legal service will always use an approved or reputable online payment handler. If they simply direct you to an unsecure page which asks for your credit card details, then it is very likely a scam.
This article is written by Lucy who works for UK Safe Meds – one of the few legal online pharmacy’s in the UK. In her free time, Lucy loves to visit the mountains with her partner.