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ORIGINAL ARTICLE
Year : 2019  |  Volume : 11  |  Issue : 3  |  Page : 284-291

Public perception toward e-commerce of medicines and comparative pharmaceutical quality assessment study of two different products of furosemide tablets from community and illicit online pharmacies


Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences, College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences, Ajman University, Ajman, UAE

Correspondence Address:
Dr. Akram Ashames
Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences, College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences, Ajman University, P.O. Box 346, Ajman
UAE
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None


DOI: 10.4103/jpbs.JPBS_66_19

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Background: E-commerce of medicines has been extensively spread worldwide. Many reasons influence consumers to purchase their medical needs through the Internet, including low cost, availability, accessibility, and time saving. However, most of these medicines are substandard and counterfeit. Aim: To assess the perception of people in the UAE about purchasing medicines from online sources and to evaluate the quality of furosemide tablets from two different sources including illegal online source. Materials and Methods: A cross-sectional study was conducted on 528 participants in the UAE. The questionnaire included three parts to assess the public perception and experience toward purchasing medicines from online sources. Furosemide tablets, purchased from the UAE market and an illegal online source, were physically and chemically studied to assess their quality according to the British Pharmacopoeia (2018). Results: The survey results revealed that less than 10% of participants have purchased their medicines from online sources and mostly they were nonprescription products (78%). Most common motives for online purchasing were either unavailability in the local pharmacies (43%) or lower cost compared to that in local market (43%). The opinion of participants toward purchasing of online medicines was negative. On the other hand, the experimental analysis showed that online furosemide had failed to pass the chemical assay test (91.0% ± 0.8), which makes it a substandard product. Conclusion: This study showed that few consumers had considered purchasing pharmaceutical products from online sources as a feasible way to save money and time. However, most of them were in doubt about their quality, which encourages health-care providers to guide patients to government-supported websites if required. The study also showed that the quality of online medicines is questionable, indicating that these products are not equally effective as the medicines purchased from a local pharmacy.


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