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Prescription Drug Spam Prevalent

Keyboard HelpA third of all spam emails advertise health products such as prescription drugs and natural health products, new research has found.

The researchers discovered that it was also easy to purchase prescription drugs and controlled substances advertised in the spam emails sent to the researchers’ email accounts.

“Spam email” refers to unwanted and unsolicited commercial email messages. Such unsolicited email generally accounts for between 80 to 90% of all email delivered via the Internet today.

Peter Gernburd and Alejandro Jadad at the Centre for Global eHealth Innovation, University of Toronto and University Health Network, Canada, studied e-mail messages sent to three accounts over a one month period. The three accounts received 4,153 spam messages, which account for 82% of the total messages these email accounts received.

A third of the email spam received was health-related. The health-related spam mostly came from the US (73%), followed by China (16%) and the Democratic Republic of Congo (5%).

The researchers were able to successfully purchase products purported to be Valium and Xanax (sedatives), Tramadol (an opiate pain killer), Cialis (a drug for erectile dysfunction), and Meridia (an anti-obesity drug), as well as several mixtures of natural health products to promote weight reduction or improvement of male sexual function.

The researchers did not test the products to determine whether they were indeed the products they were alleged to be.

“As the number of people who turn to the Internet looking for health or lifestyle problems increases,” say the authors, “merchants will rise to the occasion, matching the demand. As this study has shown, current regulatory, legal, and geographic boundaries are unable to contain the flow of products across the world.”

The study appears in the September issue of the online journal, PLoS Medicine.

Source: PLoS Medicine

Prescription Drug Spam Prevalent

Rick Nauert PhD

Rick Nauert, PhDDr. Rick Nauert has over 25 years experience in clinical, administrative and academic healthcare. He is currently an associate professor for Rocky Mountain University of Health Professionals doctoral program in health promotion and wellness. Dr. Nauert began his career as a clinical physical therapist and served as a regional manager for a publicly traded multidisciplinary rehabilitation agency for 12 years. He has masters degrees in health-fitness management and healthcare administration and a doctoral degree from The University of Texas at Austin focused on health care informatics, health administration, health education and health policy. His research efforts included the area of telehealth with a specialty in disease management.

APA Reference
Nauert PhD, R. (2018). Prescription Drug Spam Prevalent. Psych Central. Retrieved on March 23, 2019, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 Aug 2018
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 Aug 2018
Published on Psych All rights reserved.