Swedish Medical Products Agency is launching a nationwide campaign to inform Swedish citizens that more than 60 percent of prescription drugs sold on the internet are counterfeit and potentially dangerous, or substandard.
Not less than 96 percent of online pharmacies are run by criminals, according to a 2008 study by European Alliance for Access to Safe Medicines.
“Consumers should be aware that what they order on the net and get delivered home in the mail may not be what they think it is. Medications have been found to include floor polish, blue ink and heavy metals, ingredients that have nothing to do with drugs,” says Ursula Forner, communications director at the Swedish Medical Products Agency.
The online drug trade has increased dramatically in Sweden, as all over the planet, during the last few years.
The criminal pharmacies market themselves with spam – billions of e-mails to e-mail addresses anywhere.
Three percent of the Swedish population between 25 and 65 years old claim in a survey from 2007 that they have ordered medications on the internet. There are several reports in Sweden of people becoming really ill from these drugs, and there are also a few reports of fatalities.
In the same survey, 35 percent of the respondents say that they might choose to go on the internet to find prescription drugs.
Barbro Gerdén, medical doctor at the Swedish Medical Products Agency, says that the online pharmacies frequently make false claims that they are certified, and they often feature trustworthy-looking “doctors” in white coats with stethoscopes hanging over their shoulders.
“These websites often claim that they can give credible online diagnosis, and recommend and sell the appropriate prescription drug to cure the problem. This is, of course, all bogus. You need to see a doctor in person to get a real diagnosis,” she says.
Swedish Medical Products Agency has chosen a new and dramatic way to inform the public about these dangers.
On TV commercials the fake company “Crime Medicine” tries to lure viewers to the website www.crimemedicne.com which at first looks like an online pharmacy. Within seconds though, the facade falls apart and the dirty truth is revealed – authentic police pictures of filthy basements, where tablets are made, are shown together with information on the illegal drug trade.
“We are aware that this is not a common way for authorities to communicate; however, we felt that we needed something really different for people to really understand the seriousness of the situation,” says Ursula Forner.
Contact information: Ursula Forner, Communications director Swedish Medical Products Agency, ++46 18 17 46 61 (office), ++46 70 314 53 34 (cell).
For images check the link to the right.
The Medical Products Agency (MPA) is the Swedish national authority responsible for regulation and surveillance of the development, manufacturing and marketing of drugs and other medicinal products. Our task is to ensure that both the individual patient and healthcare professionals have access to safe and effective medicinal products and that these are used in a rational and cost-effective manner.