You’ve Got Drugs! Internet Prescription Drug Pushers 2004 | CASAColumbia

“You've Got Drugs!” Prescription Drug Pushers on the Internet

“You've Got Drugs!” Prescription Drug Pushers on the Internet

Published: February 2004

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Background

This report is the first in a series of white papers documenting the alarming availability of controlled, dangerous, addictive prescription drugs on the Internet. This lack of control threatens the safety of millions of Americans, contributes to prescription drug abuse and demands immediate attention.

Methods

The goal of this investigation was to determine the ease of obtaining controlled prescription medications online. Using common Internet search engines, investigators identified, over the course of a 1-week period, websites that were involved in the sale of a list of target controlled prescription drugs, and documented drug availability, prescription requirements and accessibility by children.  

Results

Dangerous and addictive controlled substances were found to be easily available over the Internet without a prescription to individuals of any age.

Only 6% of the websites selling drugs said they required a prescription to complete a sales transaction, and not a single site placed any restriction on the sale of these controlled drugs to children.

Among the study’s findings about the drug-selling websites:

  • 94% did not require any prescription
    • 41% stated that no prescription was needed
    • 49% offered an “online consultation”
    • 4% made no mention of a prescription
  • 4% requested that a prescription be faxed
  • 2% requested that a prescription be mailed
  • 47% of the selling websites said that the drugs would be shipped from outside the U.S., 28% said that the drugs would be shipped from the U.S. and 25% gave no indication of where the drugs would be shipped from

Although legitimate online pharmacies can provide access to medications for patients who need them, this snapshot of the broad availability of controlled, dangerous, addictive drugs on the Internet revealed a wide-open channel of distribution. This easy availability was found to have enormous implications for public health, particularly the health of our children, since research has documented the tight connection between availability of drugs to young people and substance abuse and addiction.

Recommendations

The report recommends more effective regulation and enforcement practices and that parents, teachers and all those who have a responsibility to supervise children be aware of this threat so they can take action to protect our children and teenagers from Internet access to controlled prescription drugs.

A Note on the Language
In 2012, CASAColumbia stopped using words like “drug abuse”/“drug abuser” because the terms have negative connotations. Instead, we now distinguish between “addiction” (clinical criteria for the disease) and “risky use” (use of addictive substances in ways that increase the risk of harm but do not meet criteria for addiction). Some reports and other publications published prior to 2012 still contain this outdated language.

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Further information

Read the press release.

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