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New guide helps people keep safe when getting medicines or treatment online

We have supported a new guide from the General Pharmaceutical Council which aims to help people make sure that medicines or treatment they get online are safe and right for them.

Published today, the guide includes six top tips for anyone going online for medicines or treatment:

  1. Check if the online healthcare service and healthcare professionals working there are registered with UK regulators.
  2. Ask questions about how the service works
  3. Answer questions honestly about your health and medical history
  4. Find out your options for treatment and how to take any medicines you’re prescribed
  5. Expect to be asked for consent for information to be shared with other healthcare professionals involved in your care
  6. Check what after-care you will receive.

The guide also gives details about what questions to ask when using online health services. It includes links to supporting information, such as how to check if an online service or health professional is regulated and what standards you can expect from health professionals providing remote consultations or prescribing online.

Sandra Gidley, President of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society said:

“It is important to recognise there are benefits and risks to buying medicines online. Keeping patients safe is essential as there are many unregulated sites out there which look legitimate.

“The guidance builds on recommendations from across healthcare that will help people to avoid illegal sites and help protect patients from fake medicine or obtaining prescription-only medicines without a prescription.”

Duncan Rudkin, Chief Executive of the General Pharmaceutical Council, said:

“We are launching this guide at a time when the UK is dealing with the worldwide coronavirus outbreak. Depending on how the situation develops, we recognise that more people may go online to get their medicines or other treatment.  The advice in this guide will help them avoid any websites operating illegally and offering fake or inappropriate medicines that could cause them serious harm”.

The online guide is supported by nine leading health organisations which regulate or represent medicines, health professionals or health services across the UK.

More information on this topic is available for health professionals through the RPS providing medicines online campaign.

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