The rise to prominence of the internet as a quick, safe and effective channel of commerce has inevitably led to the sale and issue, by pharmacies, of medicines online.

But this has unfortunately provided an opportunity for fake drug sellers and fraudsters to capitalise.

One of the most counterfeited drugs on the market is Viagra, and this is hardly surprising when you consider its popularity, and the fact that it became available around the same time that the internet exploded.

If ever there was a prime example of criminals giving an industry a bad name, then the internet pharmaceutical industry is surely it.

Because, despite the plethora of disreputable traders in existence, there are a number of genuine and safe online pharmacy outlets out there, which offer a convenient alternative for those who are unable to get to the chemist in person.

Here, we hope to reassure and help those looking to buy treatments safely online, by detailing the common tricks those offering fake or illegal services use to scam online buyers:

1. Look for Credentials

There are a number of credentials a pharmacy must have in order to be able to sell impotence treatment or any prescription treatment online to UK consumers.

First of all, they must be registered with the General Pharmaceutical Council. This is the independent body which regulates all pharmacies trading in Great Britain. An entry in their register looks like this.

When you buy a medicine online, a logo directing you to this entry should be displayed. If you can’t find it, then you’re likely not on a registered website.

Their doctors must also be accredited with the General Medical Council, or GMC. You can search to see if they are here.

2. Beware of ‘Free Trials’

If you’re wondering what an online pharmacy scam looks like, then an offer of a ‘free trial’ is a dead giveaway.

Some websites may also offer to provide customers with the same medicine at a drastically-reduced price.

This is a tactic fraudsters use to lure new buyers into obtaining fake or counterfeit tablets. One recent and high profile scam to be uncovered actually found that the tablets being sold contained ‘acid, paint and brick dust’, and were obviously highly unsafe.

Reputable pharmacies will never offer to supply a free trial of any drug, not only for financial reasons, but for legal reasons too.

3. Remember That ED Pills Are Not Available Without a Prescription

At present, erectile dysfunction pills cannot be obtained in the UK without a prescription.

For the sale of the drug to be made legally, prior consultation with a doctor must take place.

In 2010, a scheme was trialled for a period in Manchester where Viagra could be issued without a prescription. But even in this case, the drug was still not strictly made available ‘over-the-counter’. Patients were still asked to answer a series of questions relating to their medical profile, essentially amounting to a consultation.

Those websites offering to sell treatments without a prescription are therefore operating outside the law.

To provide the drug to those patients who do not have a prescription, a pharmacy must offer a means of obtaining a prescription through registered doctor assessment, as outlined above. So if a website offers to sell you medication without requiring you to answer medical questions first, do not trust it.

4. Keep in Mind that Pharmacists Need to Present Themselves Professionally

One of the most overlooked and basic pieces of advice when buying medicine online is to actually look at and consider the content of the site you are purchasing from.

If the website of a supposed pharmacy is badly put together, shares little or no contact information for patients, and uses bad spelling or grammar, then it is likely not reputable, and should not be used.

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