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Online access to antibiotics ‘hampers GP efforts to tackle resistance’

Sales of antibiotics from online pharmacies without a prescription are fuelling drug resistance, according to a new study from Imperial College London.

It showed that a reduction in prescribing in primary care coupled with an increase in internet use could lead to an increase in the purchasing of antibiotics online by patients.

The study, published in the Journal of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy, analysed 20 UK online pharmacies and found that 75% were not registered with the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency and the General Pharmaceutical Council and only a quarter were actually operating from Great Britain.

Only one in three online pharmacies asked patients to fill in an online health questionnaire before buying the drugs.

The RCGP said that online access to antibiotics without a prescription was undermining the work GPs were doing to reduce antibiotic prescribing, which saw prescriptions reduce by 2.6m in general practice in 2016.

Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard, RCGP chair said: ‘It’s incredibly concerning to hear that antibiotics are so readily available to patients via some online pharmacies without a prescription.

‘That this study has found this practice to be so widespread is extremely worrying, and it’s important that it has been highlighted, so that it can be tackled robustly in the best interests of our patients’ safety and global health in general.’


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