Millions of Brits could be playing Russian Roulette with their health buying prescription-only medicines from rogue internet sites, the Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain (RPSGB) has warned.
RPSGB research shows that more than two million people across Britain now regularly purchase medicines via the web.
While a number of legitimate pharmacies provide online pharmacy services, says the RPSGB, there are also a number of suppliers operating from websites offering to sell medicines who have no professional qualifications or healthcare expertise.
"In many cases," advises the society, "medicines purchased from such sites are counterfeit, substandard or unapproved new drugs, which put public safety at risk."
The research also reveals that almost a third of people admit to not having a clue about online regulations.
In response to this growing online danger, the RPSGB has created a visual logo to identify rogue internet sites selling counterfeit medicines.
The logo will be visible on the homepage of participating online legitimate pharmacies.
David Pruce, RPSGB Director of Practice and Quality Improvement, said: "The internet presents a real danger to people's health.
"Dishonest traders are selling medicines online without any relevant professional qualifications or expertise. The products they sell can be poor quality at best and dangerous at worst.
"People who wish to buy medicines over the net should do it at a legitimate registered online pharmacy.
"The public must be vigilant and we recommend that they use the presence of this logo in conjunction with a routine of checks when deciding whether or not it is safe to buy."