03 March 2017

Buying Medication Online Can Seem Convenient but it is Not Without Risk, Says RCGP

Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard, Chair of the Royal College of GPs, has responded to warnings from the Care Quality Commission about buying medication online.

She said: “Whether a patient is accessing care in the community, in hospital or online, they should be confident that it is being delivered safely and in their best interests.

“It’s incredibly concerning to hear reports of patients buying prescription drugs online with minimal security checks in place – so it’s good to see the CQC and others recognising this, and taking the issue seriously.

“Technology can undoubtedly make our lives easier, and buying medication online can seem convenient – but it is not without risk. If patients are able to buy prescription drugs online, without appropriate health checks in place, and with decisions about whether to supply them being made by someone who doesn’t have access to their relevant medical history, it is a very real threat to their safety.

“There are strict GMC guidelines on remote prescribing that must be followed – and if they are not, then action must be taken against the websites in question.

“GPs and other prescribers in the community are highly trained to take into account physical, psychological and social factors when treating a patient, and will only prescribe drugs if it suits the unique health needs of the person sitting in front of them. They will also be able to ensure that the drugs work safely in combination with other medications that the patient may be using.

“We would also urge our patients to consider the implications of buying drugs online using unverified websites - there is no way of knowing what they are buying is what they think it is, and this can have terrible consequences. Instead, if they think they need medication, we would advise them to seek the help of a healthcare professional, such as a GP or pharmacist, who can advise on the best course of treatment if it’s necessary.”

Further Information

RCGP Press office: 020 3188 7574/7575/7633
Out of hours: 0203 188 7659


The Royal College of General Practitioners is a network of more than 50,000 family doctors working to improve care for patients. We work to encourage and maintain the highest standards of general medical practice and act as the voice of GPs on education, training, research and clinical standards.