CANBERRA — More than one in 10 Australians aged between 18 and 34 had bought prescription drugs online in a bid to save money, a new health report launched Monday showed.
The Consumer Health Management Trends Report indicated the worrying number of people risking their health by purchasing over-the-counter medicine through the Internet.
The research, commissioned by Good Price Pharmacy Warehouse, also showed almost half (46 percent) of Australians had used the Internet to self-diagnose as it was quicker and cheaper than visiting a general practitioner (GP).
According to the new budget from the coalition government last month, patients should pay 7 AU dollars (so-called “co-payment”) for per GP visit in the future.
The measure, described by the government as “a modest price signal,” is designed to dissuade patients from claiming medicare benefits for unnecessary consultations, local media said. However, more and more people said this measure may become a burden of their life.
Anthony Yap, Good Price Pharmacy Warehouse director, said the findings were a clear indicator of negative consumer attitudes towards high prescription charges and GP fees.
According to him, in this weakened economic climate, consumers are increasingly seeking out cheaper alternatives for what they perceive as over-priced treatments and services.
“The seven dollar GP fee and increased script surcharge announced in last week’s budget are likely to drive even more people to seek health advice and cheaper medication online,” he said.
“Unfortunately, the prospect of budget cuts and lower disposable incomes cause people to overlook the risks associated with buying online such as counterfeit products which could make them ill,” he added.
While the majority of people had opted for the Internet over a GP for health advice, doctors and pharmacists still topped the list when it came to the most trusted sources of health information.
According to the findings, more than three-quarters of Australians said they trusted their GP above anything else for health advice and information compared to just five percent who named the Internet as their preferred source.
The report also explored consumer attitudes and behaviors towards herbal medicine and revealed a growing preference for natural remedies as an alternative to over-the-counter medications. Some 54 percent had used a natural remedy to treat their condition with more than eight in 10 (83 percent) claiming it worked as well as or better than prescription or over-the-counter medicine.