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News media coverage of the problem of purchasing fake prescription medicines on the internet: thematic analysis

Almomani, H., Patel, N. ORCID: and Donyai, P. ORCID: (2023) News media coverage of the problem of purchasing fake prescription medicines on the internet: thematic analysis. JMIR Formative Research, 7. e45147. ISSN 2561-326X

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To link to this item DOI: 10.2196/45147


Background: More people are turning to the internet to purchase their prescription medicines. This kind of purchase is associated with serious risks including the risk of buying fake medicines which are widely available online. This underresearched issue has been highlighted by many newspaper articles in the past few years. The newspapers can play an important role in shaping public perceptions of the risks associated with purchasing prescription medicines online. Thus, it is important to understand the ways the news media present the problem of purchasing prescription medicines online. Objective: This study aims to explore the newspaper coverage of the problem of purchasing prescription medicines online. Methods: Newspaper articles were retrieved from the electronic database “ProQuest”. The search was limited to articles published from April-2019 to March-2022 to retrieve relevant articles in this fast-developing field. Articles were included if they were published in English language and focused on prescription medicines. Thematic analysis was employed, and the Theory of Planned Behaviour (TPB) framework was used as a conceptual lens to develop the coding of themes. Results: A total of 106 articles were included and analysed using thematic analysis. Four superordinate themes were identified and represent the news media coverage about what influence people decision to buy prescription medicines online. These themes are the risks of purchasing medicines online (Health risks; Financial risks; Product quality concerns; Lack of accountability; Risk of purchasing stolen medicines), benefits that enticing consumers to make the purchase (Convenience and quick purchase; Avoid long waiting times; Lower cost; Privacy), Social influencing factors (Influencers; Healthcare providers), and the facilitators of the purchase (Medicines shortages; Pandemic disease such as COVID-19; social media; Search engines; Accessibility; Low risk perception). Conclusions: This theory-based study explored the news media cover of the problem of purchasing prescription medicines online by highlighting the complexity of personal beliefs as well as a range of external circumstances that could influence people to purchase prescription medicines online. Further research conducted in this area are needed to identify the factors that lead people to buy prescription medicines online. Identifying those factors could enable the development of interventions to minimise the purchasing of prescription medicines from unsafe online sources, thus protecting consumers from the risks of fake medicines available on the internet.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Life Sciences > School of Chemistry, Food and Pharmacy > School of Pharmacy > Pharmacy Practice Research Group
ID Code:110340
Publisher:JMIR Publications


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