Investigation Finds Online Pharmacies 'Freely' Prescribing Antibiotics

Staff Writer | The Telegraph | October 2, 2016

An investigation has been launched after online pharmacies were accused of over prescribing antibiotics to undercover reporters. The General Medical Council (GMC) launched the probe based on evidence collected by BBC Radio 5 live, and said that "the overprescribing of antibiotics risks the health of us all". The investigation looked at 17 UK-based pharmacies selling antibiotics online and in one case a reporter posing as a patient was issued with three prescriptions in the space of just 24 hours.

The NHS has urged health professionals to avoid overprescribing antibiotic drugs in a bid to stem growing resistance to them with some estimates predicting the problem could kill 10 million people by 2050. During the BBC investigation, one online pharmacy offered a choice of antibiotics to a reporter who asked for treatment for a dental infection, despite the fact they did not appear to show any of the symptoms set out in Nice guidelines. The clinic then issued the same reporter with two more prescriptions in the next two days, one each for a swollen ear and for a urine infection.

Another online pharmacy issued a reporter with a prescription for the antibiotic Metronidazole for £38 - around £30 more than the cost of an NHS prescription. Posing as a male with an ear infection, the reporter first had to fill in a questionnaire including questions about whether he had symptoms of a vaginal infection. The company has since said it has deactivated consultations for ear infections because of a "system glitch"...