Deaths row pills for sale by the hun­dreds at the click of a mouse

CON­TRO­VER­SIAL DRUGS AVAIL­ABLE ON­LINE Alert over beta block­ers which killed teens

Sunday Mail (UK) - - Opinion - Craig Mc­Don­ald

A con­tro­ver­sial beta blocker drug linked to the death of two school­girls is avail­able in vast quan­ti­ties on­line at the click of a mouse.

Pro­pra­nolol, which low­ers the heart rate, is be­ing pre­scribed by GPs to young peo­ple to help them tackle stress.

Cam­paign­ers have voiced fears over its use in such cases amid fears it can lead to fa­tal over­doses.

Last week, we told how the death of schoolgirl Lucy Cur­ran, 16, of Giffnock, Glas­gow, has been linked to the drug.

The St Ninian’s High School pupil passed away in February.

Her death was the sec­ond to be as­so­ci­ated with pro­pra­nolol, two years af­ter Britney Maz­zoncini, of the city’s Carn­don­ald, died af­ter tak­ing the drug.

Both girls were pre­scribed the drug by their GP. But our in­ves­ti­ga­tions dis­cov­ered sub­stan­tial con­sign­ments of the drug can be shipped from over­seas with­out the pur­chaser be­ing asked about their symp­toms.

The easy avail­abil­ity of the drug– de­vel­oped 50 years ago by Scots sci­en­tist Sir James Black – on un­reg­u­lated websites has trig­gered fur­ther con­cern.

One site, reg­is­tered to an ad­dress in the Czech Re­pub­lic, of­fers pro­pra­nolol un­der a trade name In­deral at £ 30.99 for 60 tablets at 80mg dosage.

The cheap­est ship­ping op­tion – air­mail – took the cost to £ 41.

We placed an or­der af­ter sim­ply sup­ply­ing a date of birth which made the buyer ap­pear to be 18.

The site of­fered to ship two free vi­a­gra pills for ev­ery or­der.

An­other site, based in North Amer­ica, of­fers 360 of the 40mg pills for about £ 160, heav­ily dis­counted from the usual price of about £250.

On other sites which ship from In­dia, the drug is avail­able for as lit­tle as 22p per pill.

Deal­ers also use Face­book to tout prescription- only pills.

Drugs bought on­line can range from those man­u­fac­tured by well- known phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal com­pa­nies to coun­ter­feits made in un­reg­u­lated un­der­ground fac­to­ries.

The con­se­quences of the avail­abil­ity of drugs on­line can be dev­as­tat­ing.

Stu­dent Phillipe Py­croft, 18, of Bolton, died in 2015 when he took large doses of pro­pra­nolol he bought on­line.

He had been pre­scribed a low dose of pro­pra­nolol by his GP weeks be­fore his death to help with anx­i­ety.

But af­ter com­plain­ing to friends the pre­scribed dose was not help­ing, he bought a batch of much stronger 80mg tablets from an in­ter­net phar­macy ap­par­ently based in Canada.

His par­ents said the pack­age he re­ceived ac­tu­ally had a post­mark from New Delhi.

Phillipe died from heart fail­ure af­ter an over­dose. A verdict of sui­cide was recorded but his family be­lieve he never meant to kill him­self.

A Medicines and Health­care Prod­ucts Reg­u­la­tory Agency spokes­woman said: “We work hard to stop the di­ver­sion of prescription-only medicines on to the black mar­ket.

“Prescription-only medicines are, by their very na­ture, po­tent and should only be pre­scribed by a doc­tor or ap­pro­pri­ate health­care pro­fes­sional.

“We would ad­vise peo­ple not to buy medicines from un­reg­u­lated sources as they pose a danger to their health.”

A Scott ish Gov­ern­ment spokesman sa id: “Us­ing medicines that have not been pre­scribed by a qual i f ied health­care pro­fes­sional is ex­tremely high risk.

“We would ab­so­lutely rec­om­mend avoid­ing self­med­i­cat­ing us­ing drugs ob­tained on­line in the UK or abroad.”

TRAGIC Britney

CLICK & COL­LECT Drug can be bought eas­ily on­line with­out prescription

FEARS Death of teenager Lucy Cur­ran was linked to beta blocker

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