The Internet has simply revolutionised the way we live. Whenever the servers are down, we enter a tunnel or leave our charger sitting solemnly on our desk, we panic and feel like we're missing a limb. And that's a fair comparison. Our mobile phones in particular are like an extension of us. Our whole life, thoughts and information are contained within one small device.
What has happened? What am I missing? Is there a new app craze?
Our obsession with the World Wide Web is fairly justified. You can get everything, with just a click of a button, straight to your door. The Internet is invaluable.
When it comes to medication, however, the Internet can be a minefield. Healthcare is one of very few industries left that still have a stigma surrounding online purchasing, although this has begun to change over the last few years as certified websites have worked to gain the trust of their patients and customers.
The online pharmaceutical industry came under scrutiny again recently following the tragic death of Eloise Aimee Parry, who purchased slimming pills online that, unknown to her, contained the extremely dangerous industrial chemical dinitrophenol (DNP).
After taking 8 of these DNP pills - with just 2 being enough for a fatal overdose - Eloise began to feel slightly unwell and took herself to A&E. With no antidote, as the pill kicked in her metabolism soared, there was nothing that could be done and she died later that day. She was just 21 years old.
Neal Patel, pharmacist and head of corporate communications at the Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS), spoke to the Guardian stating the importance of using credible sources when buying medication online. We totally agree with Patel that you must seek to purchase your treatment from UK based pharmacies with websites that require a consultation with a registered doctor before the treatment will be prescribed to you. If the medication seems too easy to obtain, in particular, it is available without a prescription, then it is highly likely that it is fake, faulty or extremely dangerous.
In terms of weight loss treatments, there are options available online that are clinically proven to produce results. However, you should never purchase any treatment without filling out a consultation associated with a credible pharmacy first. One example of such a treatment is Xenical, which contains the active ingredient orlistat and is fully licensed in the UK, but you should never be issued with a prescription without having your consultation reviewed by a registered doctor first. Any website that advertises 'slimming pills' without prescription is selling either an unlicensed treatment or something that probably doesn't work. Whilst such licences abroad can be lax, the UK has a thorough and trustworthy system – stay local!
It's important to remember that you should never be taking a weight loss treatment unless you are classed as obese, as measured by your BMI. Weight loss treatment should never be prescribed if you're just looking to lose a couple of pounds.
Losing weight isn't easy, and if a tablet seems too good to be true (and doesn't match our checklist above) then it most certainly is. Don't gamble with your life. Online pharmacies and clinics can be credible; you just need to think smart to stay safe.