BeSafeRx: FDA Helping Consumers Avoid Risks of Online Prescription Drug Purchases

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AIFA presents a communication initiative within the European Fakeshare project

AIFA Director General, Luca Pani: “The perception of the risks associated with the online purchase of medicines from unsafe sources such as unauthorized Internet sites is still largely insufficient in our country. This is demonstrated by recent cases such as that of the death of a young bodybuilder from Foggia, due, according to initial reports, to the intake of an illegal anabolic substance. But there are many other cases of lethal side effects, attributable to drugs bought from illegal channels. In our country, moreover, the recent regulation of the online sale of medicines without prescription represents a significant change, which institutions such as the Ministry of Health and AIFA have the duty to accompany, through educational and awareness-raising initiatives such as this one. The collaboration with the Carabinieri of the NAS for actions to combat pharmaceutical crime is also precious ”.

“From a research carried out by AIFA and Sapienza – says the Director of the AIFA Product Quality and Counterfeiting Office, Domenico Di Giorgio – it emerged that the percentage of people who declare themselves in favor of purchasing drugs through Internet channels is high (40 , 74%). This is a figure to reflect on, especially if we consider that only 0.6% of the drug offer on the web is legal. The initiative conceived and implemented by AIFA, in collaboration with the regulatory agencies (Spain and Portugal) that adhere to the Fakeshare European projects funded by the European Commission, aims to change this distorted perception and therefore the behavior of those who buy on the internet without having awareness of risks “.

The Italian Medicines Agency (AIFA) today presented in Rome the communication campaign implemented as part of Fakeshare, a European cooperation and intelligence project to combat the online sale of illegal or counterfeit medicines through web pharmacies or unauthorized retailers .

The common denominator among those who turn to the web to buy drugs – for weight loss, for improving sexual and sports performance or for the so-called “miraculous” products is in fact the low perception of risk. Precisely on this wrong perception it becomes essential to intervene.

The communication and awareness campaign presented today aims to reach as wide an audience as possible, through the collaboration of all stakeholders: doctors, pharmacists, patient and consumer associations.

The messages have been developed starting from real cases, according to a “science based” approach, and are merged into a video that will be disseminated on the web and which can be shared by those who want to support the campaign.

During the presentation, which was attended by Lieutenant Colonel of the Carabinieri Command T.S. NAS, Erasmo Fontana, the results of the survey conducted in Italy in 2015 were presented to investigate the psychological and socio-demographic variables that lead to the purchase of drugs online.

The survey was carried out on a sample of 1000 Internet users, stratified according to the variables of age, geographical area of ​​residence and gender.

A large majority of the sample (73.67%) say they are aware of the widespread habit of buying drugs online and have come to know it mainly through web channels.
A significant percentage judges the purchase of drugs online positively (40.74%), even if the actual purchase turns out to be an unusual practice.

The most common therapeutic categories reported by respondents are weight loss (27.57%) and flu (27.57%) drugs, while erectile dysfunction drugs account for 11.3%, a reasonably underestimated due to the social embarrassment that often accompanies the purchase of this type of medicine.