People are increasingly buying unregulated medication online that turn out to be a “complete dud”, a leading specialist in addiction has said.
Last year, the Health Products Regulatory Authority detected one million doses of falsified and other illegal medicines.
Consultant Psychiatrist Colin O’Gara said it had been a “significant issue” prior to the pandemic but that it had got worse in recent years.
“The search would start for a lot of our patients with Google,” he told The Pat Kenny Show.
“I guess COVID probably put a lot of people online for various reasons and we saw increases of all kinds of shopping during COVID.
“In terms of the availability of drugs now, there are a huge amount of websites online that our patients would go on to.
“The idea of going down to the corner to meet a dealer and having to transact in cash - it’s very much gone now.”
Dr O’Gara said counterfeit medication is now “big business” and run by unscrupulous individuals “whose only goal is to make money.”
“In terms of what you’re getting there, it could be the real thing, it could be half-real or it could be a complete dud,” he said.
“Or the worst case scenario, it could be a multiple of what it’s supposed to be in terms of dosage.”
He added he had encountered patients who buy medication online and feel afterwards that “there’s nothing in the pill”.
Others say the dosage was far too strong and left them feeling completely “wiped out” afterwards.
Dr O’Gara said drug usage in Ireland is “thankfully” nowhere near as much of a problem as it is in America - where thousands die from opioids every year - but he is concerned about the overall trend.
“Certainly, as these postal and internet routes become more sophisticated, you would worry,” he said.
Dr O’Gara suggested anyone who is feeling concerned about their dependence on medication should contact their GP.
You can listen back here:
Main image: A person taking medicine. Picture by: Alamy.com