Online Pharmacy Use Can Have Serious Consequences
In today’s communications landscape where Internet access is readily available and advertising for prescription medication it is no surprise that many patients are using online pharmacies.
There are many benefits to this type of drug distribution: Disabled or homebound patients can have their medications conveniently delivered to their homes. Shoppers enjoy a certain level of discretion and anonymity. The selection of products is vast. Medications can be easily researched and compared, and computers can quickly catch potentially dangerous interactions.
But there are also drawbacks to buying medications online. A study released July 9th by the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University found that most websites selling prescription opioids, stimulants, and depressants do not require a legal prescription. This rise in illegitimate drug activity also has been linked to the growing abuse of prescription drugs especially among adolescents. There are hundreds of sites devoted to selling powerful drugs such as Oxycontin, Vicodin, methadone and Xanax without a prescription.
According to a 2005 study completed by Christopher Littlejohn and his associates, online merchants can be categorized into four basic types: legitimate, subscription, lifestyle and no-prescription.
Legitimate online pharmacies operate similar to traditional brick-and-mortar pharmacies. Customers must have a prescription from a licensed medical practitioner, and in general these websites do not offer the types of controlled prescription drugs that are most commonly obtained illegally and abused.
Users of subscription pharmacies are granted access to a full range of drugs without a prescription once they sign up for a program and pay a membership fee. These subscription websites often are maintained in countries where prescription regulation is more lax than it is in the United States.
Lifestyle pharmacies ask customers to fill out a medical questionnaire instead of a prescription. They commonly provide more elective or luxury drugs that treat conditions such as alopecia, obesity, and impotence.
No-prescription pharmacies are just that sites that are willing to mail controlled drugs to online customers without a prescription.