IMB warns consumers not to purchase anti-viral medication online

Notice type: Warning

Date: 07/05/2009


Product name or type:
anti-viral medication online

Problem Or Issue:
The IMB is today warning consumers not to purchase medicines for the treatment of H1N1 influenza A from unauthorised sources such as the internet, as there can be no guarantees on their safety, quality or efficacy. The IMB states that anti-viral medicines for the treatment of H1N1 influenza A such as Tamiflu and Relenza are prescription only medicines and should only be prescribed by a registered medical practitioner. 

Commenting Pat O’Mahony, Chief Executive, said that the IMB is concerned about the increase in spam emails and websites offering anti-viral medications online to Irish consumers and he urged people in the interest of protecting their health not to consider purchasing these medicines online. 

    “There is a real danger to consumers if sub standard anti-viral medications are taken as a preventative measure as it could actually build up a resistance to the genuine drug, which may not work later if required. The government has stockpiled anti-viral medicines to treat the number of cases that might be expected during a flu pandemic and there is no benefit to people to seek to access these unauthorised medicines – in fact could potentially cause more harm,” 

    “A recent statement by INTERPOL says that between three to four per cent of SPAM emails currently in circulation relate to the H1N1 influenza A with hundreds of new web pages on the subject also appearing. We would strongly urge consumers not to purchase these medicines or indeed any medicines online. The real risk to people’s health is that consumers could be taking a medicine that could harm them given the dubious nature of their content and potential serious interaction with other medicines that they may be on,” Mr O’Mahony continues. 

The IMB monitors and investigates instances of illegal supply of prescription only medicinal products via the Internet in the interest of protecting public health and will actively monitor the internet for illegal importation of Tamiflu and Relenza. The IMB states that anyone who has concerns about their health should consult with their doctor or pharmacist as appropriate. 

The IMB is continuing to monitor developments in relation to the recent alert with regard to swine influenza. This is being done in conjunction with The Health Protection Surveillance Centre (HPSC) and the Health Service Executive (HSE) and other external agencies -World Health Organisation (WHO) and the European Medicines Agency (EMEA). 

The supply of prescription only medicinal products through the internet is a breach of medicinal product legislation pursuant to the Irish Medicines Board Act 1995-2006 and its Regulations. The Medicinal Products (Prescription and Control of Supply) Regulations, 2003, as amended, prohibits the mail order of a prescription only medicinal product. Supply through the Internet is considered to be a mail order supply

Background Information Or Related Documents:
IMB warns consumers not to purchase anti-viral medication online Document

Further Information:
Siobhan Molloy/ Angie Grant Tel:  (01) 676 0168  or 
Weber Shandwick  086 817 5066  /  086 377 2791  

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