Medicines available on Internet for half the price


Saudi Gazette report

– Many medicines are available on the Internet at cheaper rates compared to prices at pharmacies in the Kingdom. As a result of this disparity an electronic campaign has been launched against high prices of medicines, accusing pharmacies of greed.

Many patients purchase medicines from pharmacies outside the Kingdom and blamed authorities for allowing pharmacies to hike prices without monitoring them closely.

Dr. Fahd Al-Khudairi, a researcher in oncology, said he found the price of a vitamin at a pharmacy in the Kingdom at SR295 whereas the same tablet was available on the Internet for SR24.

“This shows our pharmacies charge 17 times more than the price of medicines on the Internet,” he told Al-Watan Arabic daily.

Al-Khudairi urged those who seek nutritional supplements and vitamins to visit a special website on the Internet where different medicines with their prices have been displayed.

Tweets of doctors have contributed to the success the campaign, especially after e-pharmacies have started offering competitive rates that stood at half the price of pharmacies in the Kingdom, especially food supplements, cosmetics, and others.

Pharmacist Dr. Misaad Al-Mutairi disagrees with the move to purchase some medicines and nutrition supplements from Internet sites, saying it’s a wrong tendency. “We should know when medicines are shipped from other countries they will be subject to incorrect and unsafe storage and this will affect its quality,” he said.

He said a person who purchased medicine from the Internet would not know how it was stored during shipping and he cannot make sure whether it was done properly or not. “This brings us to the point that we should purchase medicines from pharmacies of public and private hospitals in order to save patients from the harmful effect of poor and incorrect storage conditions,” Al-Mutairi told Al-Watan.

In a previous statement, the Ministry of Health had warned against purchasing drugs from Internet sites due to poor storage or possible deterioration of medicines and medical solutions. Moreover, it has been reported that some pharmacies abroad sell expired and poorly stored products to their customers.

"Purchasing drugs from online vendors may save you time and money, and many online pharmacies provide information about drug interactions, some of them send emails to inform you about withdrawal of a medicine or the availability of a new drug," the ministry said.

However, it urged the public to be cautious about suspicious websites that sell corrupted or improperly stored medicines. Some others supply drugs without prescription, the ministry said.