Friday, September 25, 2009

Online buying: even regulators don't get the real problem

My Radio 4 Case Notes interview is now online. I'm talking about the dangers of buying drugs online without a prescription. The message is still not getting through. And not just to the men who are buying them. Even the regulators don't understand.

The interviewee on the programme from the MHRA (Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency) only talks about the fact that it is illegal and you might get counterfeit drugs or drugs that don't have the patient information leaflets or are out of date or come in a foreign language box. All true but not the main point. Hardly anyone reads the patient information sheet anyway.

The main point - and it can't be made often enough - is that diagnosing yourself may mean you miss something serious. If you're having erection problems, for example, it may be a symptom of heart disease, diabetes or depression - these are serious illnesses which if left untreated can be fatal. Simple.

We need the regulators and indeed the drug companies to make this point and stop just babbling on about illegality. This mantra misleads men and leads them to assume that all that is really at stake is drug company profits. It's not. It's their own lives. It may be a bit embarrassing to go to the doctor because you can't get an erection but it might save your life.

There's more on this in our Buying Drugs Online section.

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