Availability and quality of illegitimate somatropin products obtained from the Internet

Róbert György Vida, András Fittler, Ivett Mikulka, Eszter Ábrahám, Viktor Sándor, F. Kilár, Lajos Botz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

7 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Background Growth hormones are widely available on the Internet for those who want to enhance their physical performance and improve body satisfaction. Illegitimate websites market somatropin injections without medical prescription and encourage misuse. Customers potentially put their health at risk when purchasing parenteral medications online. Objective The objective of our study was to evaluate the online market of no-prescription somatropin products and to analyse and document Internet pharmacy characteristics, distribution and pharmaceutical quality. Setting Websites indexed in Google promoting somatropin for sale direct to patients. Method Websites promoting the sale of growth hormone products were identified and analysed from June to August 2014. Internet vendor sites were evaluated to identify possible patient and medication safety concerns. Website characteristics, delivery time, storage conditions, packaging and attached product information were assessed. Investigation of the somatropin content was achieved using capillary electrophoresis with UV detection and electrospray ionization mass spectrometry. Main outcome measure Accessibility and quality of somatropin injections. Results Seventeen individual Internet vendor websites distributed somatropin products directly to patients, majority (94%) did not require a valid medical prescription before dispensing the products. Majority (70%) of Internet pharmacies displayed no medical information and none (0%) of the vendors displayed any regulatory body logo. All online samples had significantly (p < 0.001) lower somatropin concentration than labelled. Conclusion Our results clearly illustrate that prescription only biologic drugs are widely available online and can be easily accessed by anyone. Unprofessional distribution and handling is likely to cause degradation and possible patient safety concerns.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)78-87
Number of pages10
JournalInternational Journal of Clinical Pharmacy
Volume39
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Feb 1 2017

Fingerprint

Human Growth Hormone
Internet
Availability
Websites
Prescriptions
Pharmacies
Patient Safety
Growth Hormone
Sales
Capillary electrophoresis
Electrospray ionization
Injections
Electrospray Ionization Mass Spectrometry
Capillary Electrophoresis
Product Packaging
Purchasing
Pharmaceutical Preparations
Mass spectrometry
Packaging
Outcome Assessment (Health Care)

Keywords

  • Growth hormone
  • Illegal medicines
  • Internet pharmacy
  • Medication safety
  • Online medicines
  • Somatropin

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacy
  • Toxicology
  • Pharmacology
  • Pharmaceutical Science
  • Pharmacology (medical)

Cite this

Availability and quality of illegitimate somatropin products obtained from the Internet. / Vida, Róbert György; Fittler, András; Mikulka, Ivett; Ábrahám, Eszter; Sándor, Viktor; Kilár, F.; Botz, Lajos.

In: International Journal of Clinical Pharmacy, Vol. 39, No. 1, 01.02.2017, p. 78-87.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Vida, Róbert György ; Fittler, András ; Mikulka, Ivett ; Ábrahám, Eszter ; Sándor, Viktor ; Kilár, F. ; Botz, Lajos. / Availability and quality of illegitimate somatropin products obtained from the Internet. In: International Journal of Clinical Pharmacy. 2017 ; Vol. 39, No. 1. pp. 78-87.
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AB - Background Growth hormones are widely available on the Internet for those who want to enhance their physical performance and improve body satisfaction. Illegitimate websites market somatropin injections without medical prescription and encourage misuse. Customers potentially put their health at risk when purchasing parenteral medications online. Objective The objective of our study was to evaluate the online market of no-prescription somatropin products and to analyse and document Internet pharmacy characteristics, distribution and pharmaceutical quality. Setting Websites indexed in Google promoting somatropin for sale direct to patients. Method Websites promoting the sale of growth hormone products were identified and analysed from June to August 2014. Internet vendor sites were evaluated to identify possible patient and medication safety concerns. Website characteristics, delivery time, storage conditions, packaging and attached product information were assessed. Investigation of the somatropin content was achieved using capillary electrophoresis with UV detection and electrospray ionization mass spectrometry. Main outcome measure Accessibility and quality of somatropin injections. Results Seventeen individual Internet vendor websites distributed somatropin products directly to patients, majority (94%) did not require a valid medical prescription before dispensing the products. Majority (70%) of Internet pharmacies displayed no medical information and none (0%) of the vendors displayed any regulatory body logo. All online samples had significantly (p < 0.001) lower somatropin concentration than labelled. Conclusion Our results clearly illustrate that prescription only biologic drugs are widely available online and can be easily accessed by anyone. Unprofessional distribution and handling is likely to cause degradation and possible patient safety concerns.

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