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General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) - information for families on safety around online medicines

Adfam is aware of the addictive nature of some over-the-counter pain medicines and the impact this can have on families. It is possible that future changes in health and care services could lead to increasing numbers of people seeking over-the-counter or online medicines in the future.

We would like to share the following information from The General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) about how people and families can keep themselves safe when accessing online medicines.

Buying medicines online safely

Online healthcare services and apps can help people take more control of their health, by getting access to care easily and when it suits them. You need to make sure any medicine, treatment or health advice you get is safe and right for you and your loved ones.

Read a guide on how to keep safe when getting medicines or treatment online.

Further safeguards for buying medicines online that are liable to abuse, overuse or misuse

Online pharmacies in Great Britain have to follow guidance from the pharmacy regulator to protect people getting medicines online.

This guidance makes it clear that some categories of medicines are not suitable to be supplied online unless further safeguards have been put in place to make sure they are clinically appropriate for patients. This includes medicines liable to abuse, overuse or misuse, or when there is a risk of addiction and ongoing monitoring is important, such as opiates and sedatives.

These further safeguards include making sure the prescriber proactively shares all relevant information about the prescription with the patient’s GP after seeking the patient’s consent. In the case of medicines liable to abuse, overuse or misuse, or when there is a risk of addiction and ongoing monitoring is important, the online pharmacy should have checked that the GP has confirmed to the prescriber that the prescription is appropriate, and that monitoring is in place.

Concerns and complaints about pharmacy professionals and pharmacies

The General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) is the regulator for pharmacists, pharmacy technicians and pharmacies in Great Britain. They work to ensure people receive safe and effective pharmacy care.

The GPhC can investigate concerns about pharmacists, pharmacy technicians and pharmacies. This can include where there is a patient safety issue, where someone has received the wrong medicine or where there has been serious unprofessional or inappropriate behaviour by a pharmacy professional.

If you have a concern or complaint about a pharmacist, pharmacy technician or pharmacy you can complete an online form.

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