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85 Percent of Online Pharmacies Don't Require Prescription, CASA Study Finds

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A new report finds that the number of online pharmacies may be declining, but the vast majority still don't require customers to provide a prescription before ordering controlled drugs.

The “You've Got Drugs V: Prescription Drug Pushers on the Internet” report from the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA) said that of the 365 websites that researchers found selling prescription drugs online, just two were certified by the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy, and 85 percent sold drugs without a prescription.

CASA found that 42 percent of the sites explicitly stated that no prescription was needed to get drugs. Even among the sites that require a prescription, half allow customers to fax their scrip in, which CASA called an invitation to fraud.

Some sites also have started selling online “medical consultations,” allowing customers to obtain a prescription for controlled drugs that they can get filled at local pharmacies.

The previous You've Got Drugs study found 581 online pharmacies in 2007.

“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,” said CASA chairman and president Joseph A. Califano, Jr. “Nevertheless, in spite of those efforts, anyone of any age can obtain dangerous and addictive prescription drugs with the click of a mouse.”

Califano praised a bill passed by the Senate in April to crack down on illicit online pharmacies and urged the House and President Bush to approve the measure, as well as steps taken by credit-card companies and PayPal to prevent payments to online “pill mills.” The CASA report also called for Internet search engines to block ads for drugs from unlicensed and uncertified online pharmacies and said the U.S. should ink treaties with foreign governments to shut down online pharmacies.

However, Califano added that, “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.”

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