Medicines sold on social media pose a ‘genuine threat’ to patient safety - College Chair

Speaking to The i about the risks posed to patients who buy Semaglutide through social media channels, Professor Kamila Hawthorne, Chair of the Royal College of GPs, said: “It’s a genuine threat to a patient’s safety if they are taking drugs that they have bought online without a prescription from a qualified medical professional, and it’s even more worrying if those drugs are being used for purposes that they are not intended to be used for.

“Semaglutide has recently been recommended by NICE for managing obesity in some adults, under the name Wegovy. However, it can only be prescribed as part of a specialist weight management service with multidisciplinary input, and for a maximum of two years.

“Only qualified prescribers have the expertise to take into account the physical, psychological and social factors when treating a patient, and will only prescribe drugs if it suits the unique health needs of the person sitting in front of them. They will also be able to ensure that the drugs work safely in combination with other medications that the patient may be using.

“We would urge patients to consider the implications of buying drugs online using unverified websites – there is no way of knowing what they are buying is what they think it is, and this can have serious consequences for their health. Turning to unregulated sources of prescription medication without consultation incurs a real risk of adverse health effects.”

Further information

RCGP Press office: 020 3188 7633

Notes to editor

The Royal College of General Practitioners is a network of more than 54,000 family doctors working to improve care for patients. We work to encourage and maintain the highest standards of general medical practice and act as the voice of GPs on education, training, research and clinical standards.