Antibiotics available online without prescription

By HSC Staff Writer • Published: December 11th, 2009
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

The Internet has made it easier for people with common interests to get together.

Sometimes, that’s a bad thing.

For example, consumers seeking easy access to antibiotics can find dozens of online sellers eager for their business.

A study published recently in the Annals of Family Medicine suggests it’s both easy and dangerous to buy these drugs online.

Researchers searched the Internet and found almost one-hundred-forty vendors offering a wide array of antibiotics.

Ninety-nine percent of these businesses shipped to U-S customers, though it’s illegal to sell antibiotics here without prescriptions.

About two-thirds of the vendors provided their own prescriptions. The rest didn’t require anything except payment.

These practices encourage self-diagnosis and self-medication.

Another pitfall… many sellers stated delivery could take seven days or more. That’s far too long to wait to treat an infection.

The researchers pointed out that buyers could end up getting counterfeit or adulterated drugs, incorrect dosages or outdated products, all of which could fail to work properly.

Worst of all, consumers could contribute to development of antibiotic-resistant organisms.

By ineffectively treating their own diseases, they could give bacteria a chance to adapt to drugs, making it harder to stop future infections.

There are no statistics on the number of Americans buying antibiotics online. But it appears that sellers have little fear of prosecution and even fewer scruples.

All we can say is, if you think you need medication, see a doctor.

And if you’re considering an online pharmacy, remember that old phrase, “let the buyer beware.”

In the digital age, it has more significance than ever.