Do you know the digital dangers of purchasing medicines online?

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For those who don’t know, there is an active and robust transnational criminal trade in counterfeit medicines that affects patients from the poorest to the richest countries. Though the precise impact from this health crime is hard to discover, seizures of counterfeit medicines by regulatory, customs and law enforcements officials take place all over the world.

Internet has made everything from chocolates to mobile phones easier to buy on the web. But, as every coin has two sides, Internet has also empowered illicit authorities to give rise to dangerous forms of cybercrime.

The growth of illegitimate online pharmacies is a crime that’s born from union of the counterfeit medicine trade and the ease of accessibility of e-commerce solutions. It has been found that there are approximately 40,000 online pharmacies in existence today and out of them 90% is illegal with many of them functioning as “no prescription” online pharmacies.

Does No Prescription pose no problem?

These pharmacies advertise that they supply medicines without the need to upload a prescription. Essentially it allows customer to buy prescription medicines online without a valid prescription from a doctor or a healthcare consultant. Though it may sound appealing and convenient for an independent “e-patient”, it could prove perilous to one’s health. 

By using various multiple strategies like social media, online marketing and marketing affiliate networks in order to advertise their medicines in a competitive market, fake online pharmacies only focus on selling their products. They also sometimes use fake accreditation/licenses and use misleading customers about the legality of buying medicines from them.

Is there a solution?

As online pharmacies can’t sustain without e-payments, computer scientists or researchers can target their access to banks. They could use machine learning and data mining strategies to identify theses fake pharmacies and their marketing associates that do promotion via social media.

However, nothing will be effective until there is a global consensus on the requirement for action, better consumer education and a widespread outrage against this form of health-related cybercrime.

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