Buying prescription drugs online

The number of people buying prescription-only drugs online without a prescription or consultation is on the rise. You can get practically anything with the click of a button. But that doesn’t mean you should. Read on to find out why buying drugs online is both risky and against the law.

A young man is sitting at his laptop. He wants to buy prescription drugs online. A young red-headed woman is sitting behind him. This is a wide-angle image.

What drugs are people buying online? 

 The most common prescription drugs online include opiate-based painkillers (Codeine), sleeping pills, diet pills, and antidepressants.

The risks of trying to buy drugs online

  • Attempting to buy drugs online, especially prescription, without proper medical consultation brings added risk
  • Many of these drugs are also highly addictive and mixing could cause a fatal accident. Especially if you don’t know the right dose.
  • When you buy prescription drugs online (UK) from non-accredited sites it’s likely that you won’t get what you expect; a lot of the drugs are probably fake or out-of-date.

Is it legal? 

It’s illegal to buy prescription drugs online (UK) without a prescription or consultation in the UK, full stop. But this law doesn’t cover websites based abroad if you’re buying for personal use. The same rule applies if you want to bring the drugs through customs in the UK.

Anabolic steroids are allowed, but the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) will take action if they suspect that people plan to supply medication to others. That being said, the MHRA only has the power to close down British-based sites. It doesn’t have jurisdiction over those based abroad.

There’s also a loophole in the Medicines Act 1968 . For prescription medication online, you can just see an online doctor. This means that a quick online consultation can make a dodgy transaction legal.

Actions against buying prescription drugs online

The Royal Pharmaceutical Society has created an internet pharmacy logo to show that a website is legitimate.

The All Party Parliamentary Group on Drug Misuse (APPGDM) also  launched an inquiry in July 2007. This explored the scale and nature of prescription-only drug misuse. DrugScope played a significant role in the investigation. Together, they aimed to do in-depth research on the issue of drugs in the home.

“The misuse of prescription and over-the-counter medicines is a problem that has been affecting the UK for many years,” says Dr Brian Iddon (chair of the APPGDM). “We know that thousands of people’s lives have been affected by the misuse of drugs found in the home medicine cabinet.”

“We are also increasingly concerned about the number of users buying medicines online. They face the very real risk of buying counterfeit products that may be dangerous.”

To find out more about the dangers of buying drugs online, click here

Thanks to DrugScope for help compiling this article.

Next Steps

  • Addaction helps people recover from drug and alcohol addictions.
  • FRANK offers friendly, confidential advice on all things drugs-related. Call now on 0300 123 6600
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  • Need help but confused where to go locally? Download our StepFinder iPhone app to find local support services quickly.

By Nishika Melwani

Updated on 16-Aug-2021