NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


June 25, 2008

Although Internet drug purchasing is known to be a dicey proposition, the extent of the risk has never been established.  A new report by the European Alliance for Access to Safe Medicine (EAASM) suggests the problem may be worse than regulatory agencies anticipated, says Steven Marks of the American Council on Science and Health. 

According to the researchers:

  • More than half (62 percent) of all medicines bought on-line were fakes.
  • Nearly 96 percent of the virtual pharmacies under study operated illegally.
  • More than 90 percent of websites supplied prescription-only drugs without a prescription.
  • Some 94 percent of the websites did not have the required pharmacist identified on the site.
  • Some 86 percent of online pharmacy approval stamps were fraudulent.

Regardless what the presidential candidates say on the campaign trail, Peter Pitts, the president of the Center for Medicine in the Public Interest, offers four reasons why the dangerous reality of drug re-importation trumps the obvious political appeal of low-cost medicines:

  • Multiple analyses show that drug re-importation won't reduce healthcare costs.
  • Americans believe re-importation will allow access to well-regulated Canadian drugs; in fact, most of the drugs received by participants in state re-importation programs originate from the European parallel trade or unregulated drug operations in Asia.
  • Less than 0.5 percent of citizens in states such as Maine, Minnesota, Illinois, Wisconsin, Kansas, Missouri, and Vermont who could join a state-run re-importation plan chose to do so.
  • Drug re-importation cannot be done safely, especially when there is evidence that such life-saving medicines as Zyprexa, Plavix, human growth hormone, and cancer drugs have been repeatedly faked.

Source: Steven Marks, "Internet Drugs? Be Careful," American Council on Science and Health, June 11, 2008.

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