Thursday, July 10, 2008

Abuses Are Found in Online Sales of Medication

A large majority of 365 Internet sites that advertise or sell controlled medications by mail are offering to supply the drugs without a proper prescription, according to a new study. The online trade is stoking the rising abuse of addictive and dangerous prescription drugs, the authors and federal officials say.

Drugs offered online include generic versions of opiates like OxyContin, methadone and Vicodin, which are legitimately prescribed as painkillers; benzodiazepines like Xanax and Valium, which are prescribed for anxiety; and stimulants like Ritalin.

Federal and state efforts to crack down on Internet sales appear to have reduced the number of sites offering such drugs, from 581 last year, said Joseph A. Califano Jr., director of the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University.

“Nevertheless, anyone of any age can obtain dangerous and addictive prescription drugs with the click of a mouse,” Mr. Califano said. The center is issuing the study, the latest of five annual surveys, on Wednesday.


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