A number of online pharmacies have no alert systems to identify fake profiles made by someone making multiple repeated prescription orders to the same address. This means that addicts are seeking new alternatives to enable drug usage; people are taking advantage of this loophole- ordering hundreds of pills a month. Customers are able to make multiple orders, using different email addresses and accounts. The loophole means that people can order hundreds of times, without any checking.

This can be severely dangerous, given that the website stocks opiates and opioid medicines such as tramadol, co-codamol, codeine and dihydrocodeine. If any of these painkillers are abused, they are known to lead to severe addictions.

According to the Office for National Statistics, more than 2,000 of the 3,700 recorded drug related deaths in England and Wales in 2016 are opioid involved. Analysis suggests that prescription drug addiction is on the rise in the UK.

The newly online pharmacies are all legally operating, regulated by the General Pharmaceutical Council, (GPhC). The regulators at GPhC aim to introduce much stricter measures. It was contemplated whether online pharmaceutical websites should stop supplying any type of opiate medicine, unless more thorough checks are carried out.

Doctor-4-U stated they have in the past carried out ID checks, but multiple orders to the same address are plausible if someone uses a different family member’s ID and credit card.

Another similar company, online pharmacy UK Meds, are also currently being investigated by GPhC. GPhC investigated 17 cases relating to online pharmacies this year, concerned with how people access medication, and how it may be used abusively. Currently 445 pharmacies bear the GPhC logo.

GPhC went on to say that it’s alarming that websites allow people to select prescription-only medicines without having an appropriate consultation first. Prescription-only drugs must be prescribed by a qualified health professional.

Clinical Director for Addiction Services at NHS Yasir Abbasi stated,

if you buy online, it should go through one central system, regardless which online pharmacy you visit, so that usage can be monitored.

Duncan Rudkin Executive of GPhC, stated that the council intends to set out actions that propose online pharmacy owners must meet new standards whereby consumers obtaining medicines must meet certain safety requirements. This includes identifying multiple orders to the same address or same payment details.

If you are involved with the running of an online pharmacy and need compliance advice, please contact Ison Harrison.

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