By Steve BogganUpdated: 01:24 BST, 29 April 2009
Were there such a affair as a website with a bedside manner, it would absolutely be www.uk-online-pharmacy.com.
With its brittle architecture and the ptograph of six white-coated pharmacists animated out at you, there seems little agnosticism that this is the absolute thing. Respectable. Dependable. Solid. And it seems so abundant added able than your approved pharmacist.
Here, you can get whatever you appee afterwards the altercation of activity to your doctor for a prescription. Charge pills for diabetes, blight or aerial claret pressure? No problem. Appee medication for tse awkward ailments - impotence, beard loss, obesity? Aloof bite in your acclaim agenda details.
Amy Pain, 22, was begin asleep in bed by her father, the Archdeacon of Monmouth, the Ven Richard Pain, at their vicarage me in October
The armpit can alike advice if your tranquilliser of cice, say diazepam, is no best igned by your doctor.
You can accept 60 pills for $259 (£176). That's aloof $4.32 (£2.94) per tablet! But adhere on a minute.
Why is a armpit alleged uk-online-pharmacy charging in dollars, and why is there no abode or buzz cardinal listed? If you accept the accepted faculty to ask yourself these questions afore you use drugs from sites such as these, you ability aloof be extenuative your life.
For this is a apple of self-medication and affected drugs, a apple area at best you may be conned, and at affliction you could end up dead.
According to the Apple Bloom Organisation, the barter in actionable and affected drugs is annual £18billion a year - admitting some board accept the bulk is abundant college - and it may be amenable for as abounding as bisected a actor deaths worldwide.
And if you are absurd abundant to buy online, the aforementioned organisation estimates your affairs of actuality awash affected medication at college than 50-50.
Last year, administration autrities from 42 countries bedeviled added than 11.1million affected tablets, capsules and vials - a 28.9 per cent admission over 2007.
In 2005, there were aloof 500,000 seizures for the accomplished of Europe.
The dangers of affairs drugs online were accent aftermost anniversary during an delving into the afterlife of 22-year-old Amy Pain, babe of the Venerable Richard Pain, Archdeacon of Monmouth.
Amy died afterward an credible advenious balance of online pharmaceuticals she had been affairs for insomnia, all-overs and abdomen aches
The Archdeacon begin Amy asleep in bed aftermost October afterward an credible advenious balance of online pharmaceuticals she had been affairs for anxiety, abdomen anguish and insomnia.
During the inquest, the Gwent coroner David Bowen bidding affair over the affluence with which prescription-only drugs could be bought over the internet afterwards a decree and said he would be contacting the accordant autrities to highlight the dangers.
In fact, the accordant ascendancy in the UK, the Medicines And Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), already knows about the dangers, but is drowning in a sea of internet biologic canard which it's about blank to stop, an organised abomination beachcomber that carries lower bastille sentences than narcotics trafficking but which is abounding times added lucrative.
'If you go to South America to buy a kilo of cocaine, it is acceptable to bulk you bags of pounds alike if you aren't dead afore you administer to buy it,' said Jim Tmpson, administrator of the UKbased attack aculation European Alliance For Admission To Safe Medicines (EAASM).
'But you can buy a kilo of sildenafil, the alive additive in Viagra, for £35 and accomplish 10,000 10mg tablets that advertise illegally for about £10 anniversary over the internet. That's a aculation of about £100,000. It's abundant added advantageous than chic A drugs and the penalties for accepting bent are abundant lower.'
(All of which helps explain the spam email advers for 'Viagra' with which best computers are bombarded every day.)
In the UK, actionable iniduals w barter in decree medicines may be answerable with offences beneath the Medicines Act which backpack a best of aloof two years in bastille and/or an absolute fine.
The banking rewards for autritative a affected adaptation of Pfizer's Viagra, above, are abundant college than autritative chic A drugs
If, in turn, they are counterfeiting patented drugs, they face a best of ten years in bastille and an absolute accomplished beneath the Barter Marks Act.
These penalties are abundant lower than for chic A drug-trafficking. Aftermost August, for example, two men were bedevilled to a absolute of 27 years at Nottingham Crown Court for money-laundering and trafficking in heroin, beaude and amphetamines.
The blackmail airish by affected drugs is serious.
Last year, a aggregation led by Mr Tmpson bought 36 batches of drugs online and begin that about two-thirds were affected or of alarmingly poor quality. They included the asthma biologic Seretide, the aerial claret burden pills Micardis and Coversyl, the phrenia medication Zyprexa, and the Alzheimer's ysis Aricept.
There were additionally Viagra pills for arrect dysfunction, the anti-obesity biologic Reductil, the anti-ulcer medication Zoton and abounding others.
One delivery, for 16 Plavix affection pills (which were real), came captivated in a archetype of the Mumbai Daily News. There were no accommodating instructions, but there were two chargeless Viagra pills (which angry out to be fake) and a letter thanking the client for their tom.
'If it wasn't so terrifying, it would be about funny,' said Mr Tmpson. 'Plavix is for bodies w accept afresh had affection attacks, acclamation or affection surgery. To booty a Viagra bolus would apparently annihilate them.'
The aggregation additionally arrested out 116 websites purporting to advertise decree drugs. Of tse, 102 were able to advertise afterwards afterimage of a prescription.
This is actionable in the UK. There are 18-carat biologic websites such as Boots and Lloyds, but you charge mail them a decree afore they will accelerate you your medication.
'Any armpit that offers decree drugs afterwards a decree is dangerous,' said Mr Tmpson.
'And so are the drugs that they sell. If you buy them, you're arena Russian roulette. The aftermost bolus may not accept dead you, but maybe the aing one will.'
So, what are the consequences? First of all, affected drugs - acutely not all bought online - annual huge numbers of deaths. Board abode award pills fabricated from rat poison, cement, attic polish, chalk, rice flour, advance acrylic and concentrations of absolute alive capacity that are so low or so aerial as to be dangerous.
The Apple Bloom Organisation estimates that as abounding as one-third of all drugs in developing countries may be fake.
In China alone, up to 300,000 bodies a year are anion to die because of abominable and affected medication. It is additionally believed that a fifth of the one actor malaria deaths every year could be abrred if patients had admission to 18-carat pharmaceuticals - rather than fakes.
In the West, deaths acquired by internet fakes tend to arise in ones and twos, not in the tusands.
A tse arise afresh are a 58-year-old Canadian w died afterwards demography affected sleeping pills abstemious with strontium, nic, aluminium and uranium; a man from Chicago w about died afterwards demography a affected Xanax book for all-overs which independent four times the actomed bulk of alive ingredients; and an American woman w died afterwards demography affected medication abstemious with aluminium.
According to Archdeacon Pain, it is not anion any of his babe Amy's medication independent annihilation that it suldn't have. He will not say absolutely what pills she was taking, but he will say what type; for all-overs and problems sleeping. She had suffered from all-overs for abounding years.
'Amy had had problems over a continued aeon of time, but at the time of her afterlife she was blessed and content,' he told me.
'In accepted with a lot of bodies w self-medicate, she was astute and able and had done a lot of ysis into her problems and the medication available, and I apperceive she was affairs medicines that had been igned for her in the past.
'My wife, Julie, and I accept reflected on this and our affair is that it is adolescent and accessible bodies w are acceptable to be admiring to affairs anesthetic on the internet. And conceivably tse with brainy bloom issues w feel the charge to booty ascendancy of their lives acquisition that this is one such way of demography control.'
Amy ability accept been one of the advantageous ones to accept 18-carat medication, but Archdeacon Pain says she was not accepting prescriptions from a doctor and, therefore, her imilation was not actuality monitored.
He believed she was activity to acclaimed websites - but if they were auctioning drugs to the UK afterwards prescriptions then, by definition, they were not operating legally.
'I would admonish anyone adjoin application websites that action decree medicines afterwards a prescription,' said Archdeacon Pain.
'We accept Amy's medication was genuine, but it would arise that abounding of them aren't. Not alone is that a annual for concern, but afterwards seeing a GP you ability be demography ertive combinations of medicines that could be dangerous.'
So, what can be done about actionable online pharmacies?
Well, not much. It is not aberrant for the crooks w set them up to be based in, say, Russia, to accept their pills fabricated in India and packaged on the South Pacific island of Vanuatu. The computer server that processes their business could be in the U.S. and their coffer in Panama.
Since 1994, the Medicines And Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency has brought 11 acknowledged prosecutions in the UK adjoin 18 iniduals for captivation in the aculation of affected medicines.
A added three prosecutions involving six bodies accept been brought by the Crown Prosecution Service and there are six added prosecutions awaiting involving nine defendants.
But, in reality, best offenders are based overseas, so there is little the autrities actuality can do.
Steve Allen, a above detective baker with the National Abomination Squad, is chief administrator of all-around aegis at Pfizer, the world's bigger pharmaceuticals aggregation and the architect of Viagra and the anti-clesterol biologic Lipitor, the two drugs best affected by criminals.
He said: 'We ability acquisition a website affairs pharmaceuticals illegally and accept it bankrupt bottomward one day, but again it will aloof pop up with addition name the day after.
'It is such a advantageous business that actual organised abyss are complex wse activities go abundantly unchecked. We admonish community autrities about the apple on what to attending for but, in fairness, they absorb best of their time attractive for cocaine, heroin and ecstasy, or for signs of people-smuggling or arms-dealing. They're not absolutely on the ancr for bodies actomed cases of affected medicines.'
All tse I batten to acquainted UK legislation was acceptable to accord with artificial drugs actuality awash here, but British law does not extend to websites actuality run in Third Apple countries area there is little or no regulation.
Instead, they accept the acknowledgment is to acquaint bodies to go boilerplate abreast such sites, to accept attention for their money and their health.
'Many of these pills are fabricated in bedraggled backstreet laboratories in places like China or Afghanistan,' said David Pruce, administrator of action at the Royal Biologic Society of Great Britain. '
And some of the operations accept been affiliated to organised abomination and alike terrorism. Some of the websites ability arise to be respectable, but if they are able to aculation you with decree medicines afterwards a appointment or a prescription, again they are operating illegally.
'If they were operating accurately again they would accept a bricks-and-mortar address, a blast and the name of at atomic one pharmacist wm you can call. If they don't - and they rarely do - again you would be brash to accept annihilation to do with them.'
So, what of www.uk-online-pharmacy.com? In fact, it is not based in the UK at all, but was registered on September 22, 2006, by an organisation alleged DomainsByProxy.com based in Scottsdale, Arizona.
When I alleged to ask w was abaft the online pharmacy and area they were based, one of its sales and abutment s, Randi Caywood, said: 'DomainsByProxy is a agency by which bodies can abstain their advice and it would be adjoin the law for me to accord you any capacity about that account.'
Randi appropriate I accomplish a complaint on her company's website, which I approved to do, answer that it was actionable to accommodate decree drugs in the UK afterwards a prescription.
But the armpit told me that all the capacity I had entered, from my email abode to my buzz number, were invalid, and banned to action my complaint.
I suldn't absolutely be surprised.
From alpha to finish, this is a appealing ailing business - bloodthirsty on bodies accommodating to accident their bloom in the achievement of autritative themselves feel better, about actionable the metds.
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