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The research found

85% of pharmacists believe purchasing prescription-only medicines from illicit online sources is a risk to people’s health and potentially their lives.

50% of pharmacists have come across customers who admitted to having obtained prescription-only medicines through illicit online sources.

73% of pharmacists suspect that over recent years, there has been a rise in the number of people obtaining prescription-only medicine online via illicit websites without a prescription.

Over half of pharmacists (56%) believe that people purchase prescription-only medicine without a prescription from unregulated online sources because they are too embarrassed to visit a GP or because they feel they can get hold of medication quicker if they bypass the legitimate healthcare system.

"Read the research that reveals the shocking extent of prescription medicines purchased from illicit websites"

For more information speak to your doctor or pharmacist.

Real Danger video

An educational video has been created to highlight the potential consequences of buying prescription-only medicine from illicit websites:

*This film is a work of fiction. Any resemblance to actual events or locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.

This section of the website tells you more about counterfeit medicines: the facts, what to do and how to buy medicines online safely. It also shows you what we've been doing to make sure people know the risks. You can help us by sharing the information on this site with friends and colleagues.

  1. Reveal what happened to John at the end of the investigation.

    John Melrose* was admitted to hospital complaining of problems swallowing, vomiting, diarrhoea, stomach cramps and excessive sweating. He fell into a coma and the medical team needed to establish what he had taken in order to treat him effectively.

    John’s mother told the team how he had been dealing with a lot of stress recently, juggling exams and work, and that he received parcels via airmail.

    The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) , who is the UK medicines watchdog, was informed that John’s condition could be the result of him taking a counterfeit or unlicensed prescription medicine, and a search of his room unveiled a suspect substance.

    The MHRA subsequently tested the pills found in John’s bedroom and the results showed that they contained high levels of arsenic which likely caused his serious condition.

    Given the evidence available, the MHRA was able to locate the source of John’s ‘medicine’, shut the website down and arrest the suspects running the operation. In addition, knowing what had caused John’s condition meant the medical team could provide him with the correct care and treatment so John will be fine.

    Pfizer life is brought to you by Pfizer limited.

CA/COMMS/NON/0136 Date of preparation May 2013.

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