Researchers at Imperial College London have today released a study which finds that antibiotics are illegally available without a prescription on 45% of the 20 online pharmacy websites surveyed.
Although online versions of UK high street pharmacies were compliant with prescription regulations, 80% of the online pharmacies surveyed let people choose the dose, duration of treatment and even the antibiotic itself. Three-quarters of online pharmacies in the study lacked evidence of the appropriate registration status required by law.
Martin Astbury, President of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society said:
"Unnecessary antibiotic use can result in serious side effects in individuals and has a major impact on wider public health by increasing antibiotic resistance. We cannot support access to antibiotics through a web form until the standards for prescribing by private providers reflect the standard of face to face consultations in the NHS. Those involved in supplying medicines online should ensure their processes are as robust as possible."
Pharmacy teams and patients can sign up to be part of Public Health England's Antibiotic Guardian campaign and pledge to make better use of antibiotics.