The Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain has unveiled a new logo to help the public vet internet pharmacies and address the danger of unlicensed drug peddlers online.

The move was spurred by the growing number of people in the UK – now more than 2 million - who purchase their medicines from internet pharmacies, without really knowing whether they are legitimate or not or having any idea about online regulations.

As the RPSGB points out, there are a number of online suppliers without professional qualifications or healthcare expertise, and the danger is magnified by the fact that several drugs bought from these websites are fake, substandard or without regulatory approval, and so pose a significant risk to public safety.

“The internet presents a real danger to people’s health…[and] people who wish to buy medicines over the net should do it at a legitimate registered online pharmacy,” said RPSGB Director of Practice and Quality Improvement, David Pruce. He warned the public to be vigilant, and recommended using the logo “in conjunction with a routine of checks when deciding whether or not it is safe to buy.”

All pharmacies across Britain - including those offering a web-based service - must be registered with the RPSGB, and so the new logo will be clearly visible on the homepage of any participating online pharmacies, the RPSGB said.

Retail safer
The Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry has welcomed the move, in so far that it offers an extra guarantee to patients, but it stressed that retail pharmacies “offer the only truly secure way of ensuring the safe dispensing of prescription medicines”.

“The pharmaceutical industry very much hopes that this RPSGB initiative will go some way to answering some of the questions raised by the use of internet pharmacies,” said David Fisher, Commercial Director at the ABPI. “However, it is not going to solve all these problems overnight, and patients who order medicines through them must continue to take every precaution to ensure that their health is not put at risk,” he added.