Dangerous, Addictive Prescription Drugs Widely Available to Children
on the Internet
NEW YORK, February 26, 2004 – According to a new White Paper released by The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA) at Columbia University and Beau Dietl & Associates (BDA), dangerous and addictive controlled substances are easily available over the Internet without prescription to individuals of any age.
The CASA white paper, “You’ve Got Drugs!” Prescription Drug Pushers on the Internet, originally was slated to be part of an exhaustive, three-year CASA study on the diversion and abuse of controlled prescription drugs – those which are dangerous and addictive. But upon uncovering the scope of the problem, CASA considered the threat to children too immediate to wait until the full study was completed at the end of this year. CASA and BDA released this part of the report now to alert parents, teachers and others of the grave risk that Internet drug pushers present to American children.
During a one-week analysis, BDA identified 495 Web sites advertising controlled prescription drug sales: 338 portal sites that led to another site for purchase of such drugs and 157 anchor sites that directly sold dangerous and addictive drugs. Drugs available over the Internet included opioids or painkillers such as OxyContin, Percocet, Darvon and Vicodin; stimulants such as Dexedrine, Ritalin and Adderall; and depressants such as Valium and Xanax.
Only six percent of the Web sites 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 dangerous and addictive drugs to children.
Among the study’s findings about the drug-selling Web sites:
Ninety-four percent did not require any prescription (41 percent stated no prescription was needed; 49 percent offered an “online consultation”; four percent made no mention of a prescription).
Four percent requested a prescription be faxed.
Two percent requested a prescription be mailed.
Forty-seven percent of the selling Web sites said drugs would be shipped from outside the U.S.; 28 percent said the drugs would be shipped from the U.S.; and 25 percent gave no indication where the drugs would be shipped from.
“These Internet pharmaceutical predators pose a dangerous and immediate threat to our children,” said Joseph A. Califano, Jr., CASA’s chairman and president and former U.S. Secretary of Health, Education and Welfare. “These drugs are as readily available to our children on the Internet as candy. Anyone – including children – can easily obtain addictive prescription drugs online without a prescription. All they need is a credit card, and if parents’ credit card information is saved on a home PC, today’s tech savvy kids will know where to find it.”
“The wide availability of controlled prescription drugs on the Internet is an open floodgate of drugs of abuse and the tide is rising ever higher,” said Beau Dietl, chairman of Beau Dietl & Associates. “Access to controlled substances over the Internet is a fairly new phenomenon and laws and regulations have yet to catch up with it. The global nature of the Internet and the ease of creating sites, then making them vanish without a trace, make it extremely difficult to regulate. But Congress must act swiftly to strengthen laws to protect our children from these Internet drug pushers.”
“While state and federal governments struggle to close this wide open channel of distribution, a huge burden rests with parents, ” added Mr. Califano. “Our research demonstrates that parents who are actively engaged in their children's lives, including monitoring Internet activities, have children far less likely to smoke, drink and use drugs. We urge parents to be vigilant over their children’s use of the Internet and we urge Internet companies to do everything they can to block access to these Web sites.”
The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA) at Columbia University is the only national organization that brings together under one roof all the professional disciplines needed to study and combat all types of substance abuse as they affect all aspects of society. CASA's missions are to: inform Americans of the economic and social costs of substance abuse and its impact on their lives; assess what works in prevention, treatment and law enforcement; encourage every individual and institution to take responsibility to combat substance abuse and addiction; provide those on the front lines with tools they need to succeed; and remove the stigma of substance abuse and replace shame and despair with hope.
With a staff of 74 professionals, CASA has conducted demonstration projects in 82 sites in 40 cities and 20 states focused on children, families and schools, and has been testing the effectiveness of drug and alcohol treatment, monitoring 15,000 individuals in more than 200 programs and five drug courts in 26 states. CASA is the creator of the nationwide Family Day initiative—the fourth Monday in September—that promotes parental engagement as a simple and effective way to reduce children’s risk of smoking, drinking and using illegal drugs.