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Concerns About Drug Availability On The Internet

Wednesday, April 29th, 2009 Concerns About Drug Availability On The Internet

Amy Pain was found dead in bed by her father, the Archdeacon of Monmouth, the Venerable Richard Pain at their home in the Monmouthshire town on 12 October, according to a recent BBC report (21 04 09).

The coroner, David Bowen, from Gwent, has warned about the dangers of buying prescription drugs over the internet after the death of a 22-year-old woman from an overdose. In addition he added it was likely Miss Pain accidentally took an overdose to try to relieve period pain. He recorded a verdict of death by misadventure at the Newport inquest. The archdeacon said his daughter used the computer in her bedroom to buy online medication for her insomnia and period pains.

The inquest was further informed that she bought a variety of different drugs, some of which are only available on prescription and one which was discontinued in the UK in 2007. Mr Bowen refused to identify any of the drugs obtained by her. The girl’s father confirmed that the day before, his daughter had had a stomach problem and had not been sleeping well. He also confirmed that he found her in bed the next morning apparently asleep. He says, “We became concerned when we didn’t hear her upstairs in her bedroom the next morning,” he said.

“I found her in bed apparently asleep - she looked very peaceful.

“But we realised something was wrong and called the emergency services.”

Her father described Ms Pain as “intelligent”, “creative” and “attractive” young woman, although she was sometimes reclusive and was happier shopping online than going out. The inquest heard she had been treated for anxiety and anorexia since she was 11 but she began self-medicating at the age of 18 by buying drugs through an internet mail-order company. Mr Pain said “She obtained drugs from the internet to help her to sleep and used herbal remedies.

“We tried to monitor her and brought it up with health professionals who would come to visit her.

“But ordering medication off the internet is not an uncommon thing for people to do.”

The girl’s father also adds that his daughter did not want to leave the house at their vicarage in Monmouth and preferred to order her medication from the internet. Asked by Mr Bowen if he thought Ms Pain wanted to take her own life, Mr Pain said: “No”.

“She was a very loving girl and if she’d meant to end her own life she would have said goodbye in some form or another.”

A post mortem examination revealed Amy died of a drug overdose. Recording his verdict, Mr Bowen said he would be contacting the relevant authorities to highlight the dangers of freely available prescription drugs over the internet.

“I’m concerned at the evidence I have heard at the apparent ease that drugs, normally only available by prescription, can be obtained by the internet,” Mr Bowen said.

“I intend to draw the facts of this tragic death to the attention of the appropriate authority to see what action can be taken to restrict that access, especially to young and vulnerable people.”

After the case, Mr Pain said: “This is something a lot of people do and obviously I’m very concerned. It’s something that should be looked into.” The inquest came on the day the Nuffield Council on Bioethics warned about online drug sales.

The independent group said patients could be at risk from unregulated online sales.

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