The rising of online shopping has brought tremendous convenience to everyone. From groceries to the latest smartphone model, there’s almost nothing you cannot buy from the Internet. But how about medicines?
Here we list a few points for you to ponder upon when it comes to buying medicines online.
You can’t know for sure if the medicines sold online are registered with the authority.
Pharmaceutical products are heavily regulated by the National Pharmaceutical Regulatory Agency (NPRA), an agency under the Ministry of Health Malaysia that aims to safeguard nation’s health through scientific excellence in the regulatory control of medicinal products and cosmetics. Every medicine intended to be sold in Malaysia must be registered with the Drug Control Authority (DCA), a body under the NPRA.
The manufacturer of the said medicine will be subjected to a rigorous background check and be demanded to submit extensive documentation to prove that the product is safe and will not cause harm to the users. Then, after the medicine is approved, it will be assigned with a registration number (e.g. MAL20085264A) and a MeditagTM hologram label as a measure to prevent counterfeiting.
Image credit: myhealth
These are important features to look for when buying medicines. Buying medicines online makes it harder for consumers to verify these features, hence a high chance of buying counterfeit/ unregistered medicine which is ineffective or even harmful to your body.
Unscrupulous sellers can even go far and beyond to create counterfeited registration number and MeditagTM hologram label for their products. You may verify the registration number of your pharmaceutical products by checking it here.
Unregistered medicines sold on the Internet can be harmful to you.
One of the most compelling reasons that you should not buy medicines from an unknown seller online is because you will never know what’s inside of them. To produce pharmaceutical products which are on par of the quality and standards set by the authority, the manufacturing premises must comply with the Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) requirements. The GMP is a strict and rigorous set of rules that the manufacturer needs to comply to produce medicines.
Image credit: pharma knowledge centre
In other words, not every factory, your own house garage or a camper van (Breaking Bad, anyone?) can be used to manufacture medicine.
If you are ‘unlucky’, the medicines you buy online can:
Contain too much of the active ingredient, thus leading to poisoning
Contain too little/none of the active ingredient which makes it ineffective to treat your illness or condition
Be adulterated with banned substances such as sibutramine and steroids that may make the medicine seems very effective at first, but harming your body when using it long-term
Contain unknown toxins or heavy metals which are harmful to you
These are equally true for weight-loss supplements and cosmetics products as well.
Buying medicine should not be a bet that you hedge your luck on, it should be an informed, safe and guided decision by the professionals.
Image credit: malay mail
NPRA sets up a portal that recorded unregistered products that contain banned substance here. Check if your medicine is on the list.
For complementary and alternative medicine, check here.
For cosmetic products, check here.
Image credit: Program Perkhidmatan Farmasi
Buying genuine medicine is just half of the equation.
Using the medicine correctly is just as important as buying a genuine medicine. But this is not what the unlicensed online medicine sellers have in mind. Most of them do not hold a medical doctor or pharmacist license and have no prior education to medicine safety at all. It’s doubtful that they know what are they selling, let alone how to use medicines correctly.
The unscrupulous medicine online sellers are purely motivated by profits, hence they do not feel accountable to your well-being. So do not get attracted by the extremely low prices of medicines sold online. You do not pay less money by buying medicines from them, God forbid that you might just end up paying the price with your health. Pay slightly more by getting medicines and proper counselling from a doctor or pharmacist, it is definitely worth it.
Image credit: malay mail
Your need for medicines might change
You may think that buying your long-term medicines in bulk online will be more cost-effective and saves you more money. The truth is, taking medicines long-term is often a dynamic instance. It would require routine monitoring and follow-up at your doctor’s clinic in order to determine their subsequent doses. Just because you take Caduet® 5/10mg every day does not mean that you will stay on the same dose forever. Your doctor will advise you the correct dose based on your latest condition and lab results.
Also, most of the medicines for high blood pressure, diabetes and high blood cholesterol are prescription medicine. Obtaining the medicines otherwise are actually illegal, as mandated in the Poisons Act 1952.
Image credit: code blue
How to buy medicines SAFELY online?
Do not buy medicines from an unknown seller on the internet.
Consult your pharmacist or doctor first before buying medicines online.
Buy from online stores which are set up by existing pharmacies. For medicines which required prescriptions, make sure that you get a prescription from a doctor first. If the seller does not require any prescription to sell you the medication, you know something is wrong.
Refill your medicines through Doc2Us platform via an e-prescription. The e-prescription is issued by a registered online doctor, digitally signed and send to our partner pharmacy. The medicine will then be dispensed by a registered pharmacist and send to your house. This helps to safeguard our customer’s safety and health.
Cover image credit: code blue
Introducing Doc2Us, your personal pocket doctor at your fingertips. With its name synonymous to “talk to us”, Doc2Us is a mobile application that allows you to talk to a doctor or any healthcare professionals via text chat at any time and from anywhere.