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Prozac on sale at touch of a button.

Byline: By Megan Bolam

Powerful anti-depressants like Prozac are available on the internet without prescription. Megan Bolam reports.

By simply logging on to the internet people can order an unlimited amount of anti-depressants within 30 seconds from online pharmaceutical companies.

No prescriptions or medical details are needed to obtain the medication, just a credit card and an address and the drugs will be delivered to the door.

Medical experts last night warned of the dangers of taking unprescribed anti-depressants while anti-drug campaigners called for a ban on the online shopping services.

Simply by logging on to an Australian-based website, I was able to buy a drug which is only available under medical supervision in this country.

Within seconds an order was placed for 20mg x 28 tablet box of Fluoxetine/Prozac for pounds 40 to be delivered within 14 days.

The firm was just one of more than 100 companies selling discounted anti-depressants on the internet.

South Shields-based GP, Professor Colin Bradshaw, said he was concerned at the availability of the drugs but was powerless to stop the problem.

He said: "I find it staggering that people can buy anti-depressants and more addictive drugs over the internet ( it is very worrying. It shouldn't happen but they are overseas companies and what can you do to stop it?

"Anti-depressants need to be prescribed by a doctor or health professional with experience in mental health.

"One of the real problems with prescribing anti-depressants is they must be matched with the needs of the patient.

"Although Prozac is a good drug to treat people with depression it doesn't suit every person and every type of depression, particularly people who are agitated because Prozac will probably make them worse at first.

"It is important that people who need treatment for depression have a full assessment from their GP before taking any medication."

Worldwide expert on anti-depressants Shirley Trinkett, who has been campaigning against the use of anti-depressants for the past 10 years, called for the drugs to be banned from online sales.

Former prescription drug counsellor, Mrs Trinkett, of Sunderland, has published a number of books on the use of anti-depressants and her latest work on Prozac is due to be published next year.

She said: "These companies should be illegal. It is criminal that people should be able to just go on the internet and order these drugs and it could have disastrous consequences.

"It's terribly dangerous but then again, it is not much different from sitting in a doctor's surgery and having doctors dish it out.

"I think the online pharmaceutical companies should be banned from selling the anti-depressants."

A spokesman for US-based Prozac manufacturers, Eli Lilly and Co, agreed, saying they didn't support online sales of the drug.

The spokesman said: "Buying anti-depressants on the internet and bypassing doctors isn't something we are at all supportive of.

"Any decision to put a patient on anti-depressants should be made in consultation with a healthcare professional."
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Publication:The Journal (Newcastle, England)
Date:May 26, 2004
Words:493
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