Background: Malta has an average of 3-4 private pharmacies per locality,
providing ready access to medicines, however, online purchasing of medicines
also occurs. The aim of this study was to highlight trends in purchasing of
medicines amongst the Maltese population.
Methods: A mixed methods approach was used. A cross-sectional survey was
conducted on a random sample of 1996 residents selected from the Maltese
electoral register. An English/Maltese questionnaire was designed to gather data
about sources of purchasing prescription-only-medicines (POM) and over-thecounter
(OTC) medicines separately. This was followed by five semi-structured
interviews with participants from the survey.
Results: The response rate was 22% (N=444, 264 women) and respondents had
a mean age of 52 years (SD+/-17). Only two participants reported ever purchasing
POMs online, while 4.3% purchased OTCs including vitamins, supplements and
herbal combinations. This finding was supported by the interviews, in which all
participants expressed disregard towards internet purchasing of medicines. The
main reason for online purchasing, expressed in both the survey and interviews,
was lack of local availability and higher price. Whereas 89% of respondents
provided a reason for not purchasing online, with 45% of these citing safety as
their primary reason. Age significantly affected whether participants ever thought
of purchasing medicines online, (χ2 (4) = 20.208, p<.001) with those aged 18-
34years (42%) and 45-54years (37%) most likely to report so. Educational level
was significantly associated with a belief that it was not safe to buy online (χ2 (2)
= 13.952, p .001) with the most educated being more likely to report this.
Conclusions: The majority of Maltese people purchase their medicines from their
local pharmacy and do not purchase their medicines online, citing the risks that
may be associated with internet purchasing of prescription medicines. There is a
belief that it is not safe to purchase medicines from online sources.
|Date of Award||10 Sep 2018|
|Supervisor||Dr Hannah Family (Supervisor), Dr Hugo Agius Muscat (Supervisor) & Prof Maria Cordon (Supervisor)|
- internet use
- Purchasing and supply