Experts have warned consumers to avoid buying medication from disreputable online pharmacies, many of which have no real credentials and could be offering fake drugs.
Internet fraud advisers MarkMonitor compiled a report into the problem, revealing that only four out of the 3,160 online pharmacies studied by researchers were accredited as verified internet pharmacy practice sites (Vipps).
Although the internet can be a fantastic resource for health information and guidance, consumers are reminded that sites offering discounted prescription drugs may be selling fake or out-of-date medication.
A spokeswoman for the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency advised against buying prescription drugs over the internet.
"They are licensed as medicines for a reason, in that professional advice should be sought prior to taking them to assess the necessity and suitability of the treatment," she told the Press Association.
The expert added that self-prescribing is "wholly inadvisable" and that patients could experience serious side-effects from drugs that have bypassed the legitimate licensing process.
Consumers are therefore advised to contact a GP for advice before obtaining any medication.
Independent advice on private healthcare