New research into the selling of drugs online has found that while the number of sites offering drugs has declined for the first time since the study began in 2004, overall availability is still too high.
Researchers at the Columbia University's National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA) spent 210 hours online researching companies selling drugs to consumers and found 365 sites this year, compared to 581 over the same period last year.
“This decline in the number of Web sites advertising or selling controlled prescription drugs may reflect efforts of federal and state agencies and financial institutions to crack down on Internet drug trafficking. Nevertheless, in spite of those efforts, anyone of any age can obtain dangerous and addictive prescription drugs with the click of a mouse,” said Joseph A. Califano, Jr., CASA’s president and former U.S. Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare.
“This problem is not going away. It is morphing into different outlets for controlled prescription drug trafficking like Internet script mills and membership sites that sell lists of online pharmacies, and different payment methods like eChecks, COD and money orders.”
The study found that 90 per cent of sites sold benzodiazepines (like Xanax and Valium), with 57 per cent selling opioids (like Vicodin and OxyContin), and stimulants (like Ritalin and Adderall) available at 27 percent of sites.
Overall 85 per cent of sites did not demand a prescription for the drugs, and half of those that did only required the prescription to be faxed, which makes forgery easier.
Most of the drug sites were located outside the United States, although almost a quarter are registered in the country. Worryingly the geographical location of over a third of the sites proved impossible to determine.
The group called for mandatory regulation and certification of internet drug sites, with an original prescription required and search engines should block all unregistered sites.