Page last updated at 09:36 GMT, Saturday, 30 May 2009 10:36 UK

Medic criticises eBay drug sales

Dr Nadeem Afzal
Dr Nadeem Afzal wants people to be more cautious when buying online

Online marketplace eBay is putting public health at serious risk by allowing the sale of drugs, a child health expert has claimed.

Dr Nadeem Afzal, consultant paediatric gastroenterologist at Southampton General Hospital, said he discovered incorrect descriptions for some items.

Dr Afzal said he also found an advert for Infacol, used to reduce trapped wind, described as "slightly used".

EBay UK said it encouraged all of its users to be "entirely accurate".

"The main problem with internet medicinal sales is that there may not be checks and controls on the quality and effectiveness of medicines supplied, even if they are sold over-the-counter," added Dr Afzal.

"There may be no legal recourse in the event of a problem."

The consultant, who presented his findings to the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health in April, is now calling on eBay to ensure all adverts carry a warning that they do not check for authorisation.

We were concerned to hear that incorrect item descriptions for over-the-counter medication may have been available for sale on our site
eBay UK spokeswoman

"This unregulated trend of selling medicine is very worrying and I want the public to be aware of the pitfalls of purchasing medications online," said Dr Afzal.

UK law permits advertising for over-the-counter medicines to the public, and sets requirements that must be complied with to ensure consumers are not misled, the Medicine and Healthcare Products Regulatory Authority (MHRA ) said.

"The MHRA investigates all complaints received about misleading advertising and would be prepared to investigate this issue," said a spokeswoman.

"To date we have not received any complaint regarding these allegations."

A spokeswoman for eBay UK said: "We work extremely closely with the MHRA, who advise us of items which are either prohibited for sale online or require a prescription.

"However, we were concerned to hear that incorrect item descriptions for over-the-counter medication may have been available for sale on our site, as we strongly encourage all of our users to be entirely accurate in their listings."

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