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[Medical Independent] , De Brun, Rita Online drugs a risky business. (01 Nov 2012)

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There is little data available on the incidence of adverse events involving products purchased over the internet. St James’s Hospital in Dublin told the Medical Independent (MI) that it is frequently contacted by GPs seeking advice on the care of patients presenting with adverse reactions to pharmaceuticals. However, most of the queries relate to overdose, accidental or otherwise, and the source of the drugs is not generally discussed or noted.

Ms Patricia Casey, Manager of the National Poisons Information Centre at Beaumont Hospital, Dublin, said: “While we have had a small number of enquiries about adverse reactions to slimming products, we don’t routinely record where they were purchased. We also don’t know what the final diagnosis was in those cases.”

Statistics show that the risks associated with purchasing prescription medicines from online pharmacies is a growing problem, on both a national and international scale. In 2009, the IMB seized 1,216 abortion pills being imported into Ireland. The previous year 48 abortifacients seized. Internationally, the scale of the problem was marked by the launch last month of Operation Panega V, a global initiative to target illegal internet trade in pharmaceutical products. The drive saw collaboration between Interpol and more than 100 countries resulting in 79 arrests, 18,000 illegal online pharmacies be-ing shut down, and 3.7 million doses of unlicensed or counterfeit pills being seized.


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