Online 'Dallas Buyers Club' promises medications, fast

The Social Medwork, a new website that sells patients medicines they cannot easily access in their own country, has been dubbed an online Dallas Buyers Club.

In the movie, the character Ron Woodroof resorted to illegally importing medicines for himself and a “club” of patients dying from AIDS in the 1980s – medicines that the US regulatory authorities had not approved in the US.

Dr Eve Saks: None of those drugs have been approved by the FDA.

Ron Woodroof: Screw the FDA. I’m going to be DOA [dead on arrival].

Dallas Buyers Club was based on real life events surrounding AIDS patients’ access to medicine in the 1980s.

However, this is where the similarity between the movie and the new website ends.

The Social Medwork allows patients to order the latest overseas-approved medicines legally. It keeps the patient’s doctor and pharmacist in the loop by requiring patients to obtain a prescription from their doctor for the medicine, and only delivering it to the patient’s nominated pharmacy (community or hospital).

Medicines are available for a range of conditions, including various types of cancer and multiple sclerosis.

The website promises to bring medicines to those who need them, fast. But are there any drawbacks to this approach? And why are patients bypassing traditional ways of accessing the medicines they need?