A Coronation Street storyline portraying the risks of diet pills has led to a 380 per cent increase in traffic to a government led ‘Fake Meds’ campaign.
The world’s longest running soap opera introduced a storyline where Bethany Platt, played by Lucy Fallon, fainted after taking diet pills bought online.
Speaking of the impact her performance had on viewers, Lucy Fallon said: “It is great as an actress to be given the opportunity to work on a storyline that can make a difference.
“If seeing what happens to Bethany during this storyline stops even just one person buying dangerous dieting pills off the internet then that is fantastic.”
The campaign, which aims to raise awareness of the dangers of buying dieting medicines online, ran alongside the soap coincidentally.
Fake Meds is administrated primarily by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), which is part of the Department of Health.
James Rose, news and digital specialist for the MHRA, said: “Despite Bethany’s collapse being a short scene in a double-bill Monday night episode, we were able to register some impressive figures on our website.
“Through a combination of our tweets, Lucy Fallon’s retweets and people searching for information on diet pills based on what they saw on screen, we registered a 380 per cent increase in visitors to our website compared to the subsequent week.”
A Twitter update posted by Fake Meds got 10,590 impressions as a result of Lucy Fallon retweeting it, according to James.
The campaign comes after the MHRA seized over 240,000 doses of unlicensed slimming pills in 2015 and managed to close down over 2,000 unauthorised online retailers.
In attempt to prevent further counterfeit diet pills being purchased, the campaign includes a page detailing how to recognise legitimate medical retailers online.
Some of these tips include reading websites carefully, checking the small print, not trusting emails from strangers, checking for secure payment methods and understanding that ‘herbal’ does not necessarily mean safe.
The campaign claims that women aged 18-30 are most likely to buy diet pills online, and the audience for Coronation Street is predominately female according to ITV.
Additionally, 79 per cent of the public are unaware of the issue of fake medical products, despite considering themselves to be “internet-savvy,” according to research carried out by the MHRA in 2016.
More awareness of this issue may be made via Coronation Street coming up to Christmas, as Lucy Fallon added that the story had not yet come to a head.
“The story is going to take a much darker turn around Christmas time, so we will be portraying the dangers of taking diet pills much more graphically at that point,” said Lucy.
For more information about the dangers of dieting pills, and how to shop more carefully online, visit their website.