Background Although there are numerous legal and regulated online pharmacies available on the internet, an abundance of illegitimate online pharmacies are offering medications without prescriptions and deliver products with unknown origins worldwide. Despite the fact that the problem has gained the attention of regulatory and health organisations, the awareness of patients and many healthcare professionals is relatively low.
Objectives The purpose of this work is to assess the current situation of ordering medicines online, to survey the attitude of patients regarding online drug purchase, promoting the completion of the medication history worksheet and to recommend useful tools for hospital pharmacists to facilitate online medication safety.
Methods The attitude of 422 patients regarding purchasing drugs online was evaluated in a hospital environment.
Results 8.4% of Hungarian hospital patients have ordered drugs or dietary supplements online and 3.7% of the respondents are considering this option in the future. Most hospital patients (82.8%) are unaware of the quality of these products.
Conclusions Patients are not fully aware of the risks of potential hazards associated with purchasing medicines online and presumably cannot differentiate between legal and illegal online pharmacies. Illegal and counterfeit medicines pose a serious public health risk because the origin and quality of these drugs are uncertain and patients typically take these preparations without the knowledge and supervision of physicians or pharmacists. Pharmacists can play an essential role in protecting patient safety and combating counterfeit medicines.