It is now possible to buy medication, such as Viagra and herpes pills, online using Bitcoin.
MedExpress is the first regulated UK pharmacy to offer the option of using this method and it means buyers face no risk of the purchases showing up on a bank or credit card statement.
The company said it added the feature yesterday due to the increasing popularity of the digital currency.
It also said it believed there was a consumer demand for a convenient way to purchase treatments – such as for baldness and weight loss – more discreetly online.
MedExpress stressed that it will still carry out a number of identity checks to ensure that patients are not obtaining medicines illegally.
But it hopes that it will encourage people to get the help and treatments they need without fear of embarrassment.
The news comes after it was announced men seeking Viagra in the UK will no longer need a prescription from their GP after health officials reclassified the drug.
MedExpress has come the first regulated UK pharmacy to offer the option of paying using Bitcoins, which leaves no paper trail (stock image)
The pharmacy’s managing director, Dwayne D’Souza, said: ‘At MedExpress, we are continually working on innovative technologies to deliver the best possible experience for our patients.
‘The growth in popularity of Bitcoin means that it is now a viable payment option and offers no paper trail unlike other payment methods.
‘Discretion is very important to our customers, and we hope that people who previously avoided treatment as they were concerned about their partner finding out, will now be able to receive the healthcare they need safely and discreetly.’
Legal and discreet
MedExpress explained that customers can sign up to a Bitcoin wallet service in order to use the currency – this is where all the Bitcoins you receive will be stored. Options include Coinbase and Blockchain.info.
When you pay for something online with Bitcoin the buyer simply scans the QR code from the website using your Bitcoin wallet.
Once you confirm payment, the transaction will go through the Bitcoin network and the payment will be completed.
The obline pharmacy says there is demand for a way to purchase treatments more discreetly
Medical director Clare Morrison said: ‘MedExpress still performs a number of identity checks to ensure that patients are not using a false identity to obtain medicines illegally; but allowing a more discreet payment and delivery method, ensures that patients can be confident that their purchase is shielded from those around them.
‘I certainly think that this will further encourage patients to seek out treatment for their conditions, which is great.’
WHAT IS BITCOIN?
Bitcoin is a virtual currency. It isn’t printed, like dollars or euros – they’re produced by people, and increasingly businesses, running computers all around the world, using software that solves mathematical problems.
It is the first of a new form of money held only online that can be used either to spend like ‘cash’ or as an investment a little like a commodity such as gold.
Bitcoin are stored online in a ‘digital wallet’ and then spent on goods and services. Alternatively, you can exchange it for a traditional currency such as sterling.
This can be done using a special pre-payment card that converts the cryptocurrency when a purchase is made.
When Bitcoin was invented in 2009, it was aimed at techies who ‘mined’ for it using ‘Blockchain’ technology. To release coins a ‘miner’ had to verify each transaction by solving a complex maths problem. But today, the Bitcoin revolution has extended beyond the techies and miners.
Cryptocurrencies can now be purchased from specialist exchanges such as Coinbase, Kraken, Bittylicious and Bitstamp.
You can usually pay for the currency by credit or debit card or bank transfer. .
Oliver Isaacs, a technology investor and expert in cryptocurrencies, says: ‘You can send a currency to another person’s digital wallet so a Christmas present could be on the cards.’
Erectile dysfunction drugs
Men seeking Viagra in the UK will no longer need a prescription from their GP after health officials reclassified the drug, it was announced last month.
For the first time, they will instead be able to buy it over the counter at chemists, as long as a pharmacist approves the little blue pills as safe for them to use.
The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) announced that it is reclassifying Viagra Connect tablets following a public consultation.
Manufacturer Pfizer plans to get stocks of the medication into UK pharmacies by spring 2018.
Experts say making the tablets more widely available will help sufferers of erectile dysfunction (ED) who might not feel able to visit their GP.
Viagra Connect will be made more widely accessible which experts say will encourage men with ED (stock image)
Officials hope the move will also help steer people away from buying drugs from websites operating illegally and selling unlicensed or counterfeit impotency medicines.
Additionally, the cost of an erectile dysfunction pill that lasts up to eight times longer than Viagra has been slashed by half – and could soon be available on prescription on the NHS.
A generic version of Cialis has launched in the UK after the brand’s patent ran out, opening up the market for cheaper versions.
And Pfizer announced this week that it will begin selling a generic white version of its blockbuster Viagra for half its $65-a-pill price in the US on Monday.
The pharmaceutical giant’s US patent for Viagra is set to expire next week, opening the flood gates for competitors to jump into the market with their cheaper generic versions.
Rather than lose most of its sales to other companies, Pfizer will continue to market its brand-name Viagra with discounts, and supplement those profits from its new generic, sildenafil, to keep it competitive.