Internet drugs pose health risk

The National Pharmaceutical Organization (EOF) warned consumers yesterday against buying medicines over the Internet, as many of them have not passed through the correct regulatory checks and are illegal. According to EOF, there have been 170 counterfeit drugs traded internationally and illegally over the Internet in the last five years. The buying and selling of illegal pharmaceuticals does not appear to have taken off in Greece; however, local e-mail account holders are often targeted by messages about available cheap drugs. Counterfeiters try to bypass licensing and supervision regulations in an attempt to make money without the attached responsibilities and risks, according to industry experts. Cases have been recorded in the EU where the customers have received fake boxes of medicines that are empty or that contain the wrong drugs. EOF President Dimitrios Vagionas told Kathimerini that the selling of medicines in Greece over the Internet is forbidden and that until now there have been no such cases recorded. However, this cannot be accurately monitored because of the Internet’s easy accessibility, the EOF president added. His comments come after a warning from the European Commission on Monday about buying fake drugs on the Internet. «I am alarmed at the ever-increasing number of counterfeit medicines sold via the Internet. This represents a real danger to the health of patients,» said Commission Vice-President Gunter Verheunger, responsible for enterprise and industry products. Growth hormones for use in body-building as well as lifestyle and sleeping drugs are among the medicines peddled electronically.