THURSDAY, Feb. 2 (HealthDay News) -- Be wary of buying the cholesterol-lowering drugs known as statins on the Internet, British researchers say.
Common statins such as Lipitor, Crestor or Zocor may not be the same as advertised and sites often don't include warnings about side effects or even require a prescription, the researchers noted.
"A potential purchaser of statins in the U.K., where one can only legally receive them on a doctor's prescription, searching the web for product, is likely to encounter sites from a wide geographical base and of generally poor quality," said lead researcher David Brown, from the School of Pharmacy and Biomedical Sciences at the University of Portsmouth.
"Potentially, customers who obtain statins in this way, without their doctor's prescription, may not be aware of potential side effects and may put themselves in harm's way," he added.
The report was published Feb. 2 in the journal Pharmacoepidemiology & Drug Safety.
For the study, Brown's team looked at 184 Internet sites offering statins.
"Information necessary for safe use of the product was often poorly presented and in the majority of cases, incomplete," Brown said. "Where present, side effect information such as warnings, contraindications and possible side effects was in general, unstructured and unhelpful."
They found that more than 92 percent of these sites did not include information on contraindications for statins. In addition, another 47 percent didn't include information on drugs that shouldn't be taken along with statins.
Moreover, up to 96 percent of the sites didn't include information on adverse symptoms to watch out for, including myopathy, liver disease, hypersensitivity and pancreatitis, the researchers found.
Only 7 percent of the sites listed all known side effects and only 65 percent described any side effects in lay lan
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