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

NCJ Number
Date Published
February 2004
22 pages
This report presents preliminary findings on the availability of prescription drugs on the Internet.
The diversion of prescription pharmaceuticals for illicit use in the United States constitutes a major public health threat to the United States. Unfortunately, State and Federal laws regulating Internet pharmacies has been out-paced by technology. In an effort to inform public policy, the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA) has undertaken a national study of the diversion and abuse of controlled prescription drugs. During the course of the study, Beau Dietl & Associates (BDA) joined the research team to assist in the assessment of the availability of controlled prescription pharmaceuticals on the Internet. Research methods included an Internet search and an examination of e-mail advertisements and site dispensing patterns. The findings are alarming and indicate that anyone, including children, can easily obtain highly addictive controlled substances online with no prescription. Of the 157 anchor sites selling controlled pharmaceuticals, 91 percent required no prescription, 4 percent required a faxed prescription, 3 percent required prescriptions to be mailed, and another 4 percent made no mention of prescriptions at all. Benzodiazepines were the most frequently offered controlled pharmaceutical on the Internet, with 144 sites selling these drugs. Opioids and painkillers were the second most frequently offered class of pharmaceuticals, followed by stimulants such as Ritalin and Adderall. The findings indicate that Federal and State attempts to control the distribution of controlled pharmaceuticals on the Internet have been ineffective. The danger and severity of the situation call for immediate attention. CASA’s upcoming full report will offer specific recommendations for Federal and State law and regulation of Internet pharmacies. Appendix, notes, references