Online doctor hits Australia

Doctus allows consumers to buy prescriptions without needing to see their GP first.
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01.Prescriptions on the go

Pill bottles on a pharmacy shelf

An online doctor is peddling a two-in-one consultation and prescription service, meaning consumers can get a prescription and their medication without providing ID or seeing a doctor face-to-face.

Medications currently prescribed by Doctus include those for asthma, emphysema, blood pressure, cholesterol, contraceptives, erectile dysfunction, and chlamydia. Users of the site can buy either a prescription only for $24.95 (this can then be filled at a local pharmacy), or the prescription and the medication, the costs of which are comparable to regular pharmacy prices. Overnight delivery costs $15, while regular delivery is free.

While the site, run by Dr Rodney Beckwith and Sarah Beckwith, offers a convenient service for time-strapped consumers, CHOICE is concerned it may be used in inappropriate circumstances and could be problematic for consumers. 

The risks of Doctus

The site doesn't require any identification to prove users are over the age of 18, nor does Dr Beckwith provide medical advice.

To buy a prescription of contraceptive pill Yasmin, for example, a CHOICE staffer simply filled out a form stating among other things that the medicine was for her own use, that she didn't use a number of medications that could interact with the pill, didn't have a number of pre-existing medical conditions, and promising she had had her blood pressure checked within the past 12 months – and the medication was on its way to her. In the case of contraceptive pills, women should have their blood pressure checked regularly and consult with their doctor about the types of pills they're on and potential side effects.

As an alternative, it is possible in some cases to get a prescription renewed by your own GP over the phone, allowing you to skip the queue and grab your script on the go. This is similarly convenient, but with the added assurance that your doctor will know your medical history.

Furthermore, Doctus sells chlamydia testing kits and treatment antibiotics, meaning someone could in theory self-diagnose and attempt to treat themselves, without checking if the treatment was successful or ever discussing the potential long-term impacts of chlamydia, as well as the implications on other sexual partners, with a doctor. 

The Australian Medical Association has also raised concerns about Doctus, saying it could lead to potential health issues for those who use the service.



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