Evaluation of the Online Pharmaceutical Market and Counterfeit Medicines: Development of a Risk Based Safety Mapping of Online Pharmaceutical Market
Vida Róbert György
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The Internet has revolutionized and changed our lives, communication and procurement practices and strategies. As the access to the Internet is increasing, the use of Internet to seek health information is also expending. Population based surveys found in the U.S. that 72% of the online population, while in Europe 71% of Internet users searched for health information at least once in the previous 12 months. However, consumers turn to the Internet today for not only just retrieving health information but to self-diagnose and obtain various health services or products. According to an early definition by Fung et al, an online pharmacy is an internet-based vendor (legal or illegal) that sells medicines and may operate as an independent Internet-only site, online branch of "brick-and-mortar" pharmacy, or sites representing partnership among pharmacies. Briefly, an online pharmacy is a website that offers to deliver, distribute, or dispense medications on the Internet direct to consumers. Internet supply of pharmaceuticals has developed in numerous ways and according to different models in each part of the world due to diverse regulatory, economic and cultural environments. In the United States the Internet pharmacy market is mainly prescription based, while in Europe this segment is forming according to a non-prescription based model. As Internet pharmacies can be accessed globally, thus the legislative and economic perspectives should be considered in every country worldwide.