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Be cautious when ordering medications online

The vibrant digital market place means you can order virtually anything online. Medical products are not left out either, you can easily purchase medical gadgets and medications without leaving your couch. So called over-the-counter meds don’t usually require a doctor’s prescription. Restricted pharmaceutical products however require formal prescriptions, even when making an online order.

Online medical orders are a breeze, no more queues at busy pharmacy outlets. You can instantly select from several brands. You get competitive prices, and deliveries to your place of choice. Some vendors will even offer you an automated renewal of repeat prescriptions, you never again need to remember to fill in what may be running out.

But there is another side of online drug purchases. Web vendors are virtually self-regulating. Some will uphold all the ethics that come with dispensing medicinal products. But there are others who are unscrupulous, and are in it just for the business. Issues about counterfeits, outright fakes, long expired products and other quality matters start to arise. What you see on the brochures may not necessarily be what you end up with. You will have to select wisely where your orders originate from; otherwise all you might end up with are useless and inactive products.

So what medicinal products can you safely order online? Virtually anything to be honest. Ordering simple meds to control minor symptoms is largely inconsequential. We are talking of ordinary home remedies like painkillers, creams and ointments, antiseptics etc. Restricted meds categorized as prescription-only are a different matter altogether. These are liable to both misuse and abuse, and must be ordered and dispensed within prevailing pharmaceutical regulations.

If you choose to order your meds online, look for reputable vendors. There are many ways of trying to work out who might be selling credible products, and who might not. If it’s a prescription-only medicine, get a formal prescription and upload it with your order. If it’s simple over-the-counter meds, just place the order. Resist the temptation to order medicinal products that are open to abuse, like potent painkillers and steroids. Some vendors will supply whatever you ask for, no questions asked. But you are the one who might end up becoming a druggie.

The availability of online drug purchases brings convenience to everyone, with accompanying medical savings. But you have to maintain a measure of discipline and avoid self-medicating as much as possible. Any seemingly innocent uncontrolled purchase of drugs on a whim, in conjunction with a willing online vendor, can sometimes lead you onto a slippery path. Only order what’s absolutely necessary, and mostly after a medical consult.

Dr Alfred Murage is a Consultant Gynecologist and Fertility Specialist. amurage@mygyno.co.ke

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