You’ve Got Drugs! Internet Prescription Drug Pushers 2008 | CASAColumbia

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

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

Published: July 2008

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Background

This series of white papers documents 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

Despite a decline in the number of websites advertising or selling controlled prescription drugs like OxyContin and Valium, Xanax and Vicodin, and Ritalin and Adderall in the past year, 85% of websites that sold such drugs did not require a prescription. We found a total of 365 websites that advertised or sold controlled prescription drugs in 2008, compared to 581 sites during the same period in 2007. Only 2 of the 365 sites were certified by the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy as Verified Internet Pharmacy Practice SitesTM, the same number certified in 2006 and 2007. The report identified an emerging practice of Internet sites selling prescriptions for controlled drugs that can be filled at local pharmacies. The report also found sites selling online “medical consultations,” where doctors see many patients a day to fill or refill prescriptions for controlled drugs without regard for the standards of medical practice.

This report illustrates the extensive level of Internet activity related to controlled prescription drugs. This year, the number of sites that advertised and offered controlled prescription drugs for sale declined from 2007. This decline may have been a function of efforts on the part of federal agencies, state governments and financial institutions to crack down on Internet trafficking; however, widespread availability continues.

Recommendations

The report includes the following recommendations:

  • Internet search engines should block all advertisements for controlled prescription drugs that do not come from licensed and certified online pharmacies
  • The U.S. should negotiate treaties with foreign governments to help shut down Internet trafficking of controlled prescription drugs

A Note on the Language
In 2012, CASAColumbia stopped using words like “drug abuse”/“drug abuser” because the terms are imprecise and 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 language.

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