Buying medicines online seems to have increased in popularity over the years, with more people buying drugs online than ever before.
The question is, is it safe?
What are the risk factors for buying drugs online?
A global drug survey report conducted in 2018 showed that many people turned to the dark web to buy medicines and illicit drugs.
Out of the people surveyed, around 10% said that they had used darknet markets to buy drugs online.
Such markets can only get accessed with browsers that conceal I.P. addresses for drug purchases.
Buying online drugs from foreign countries
Research shows that certain countries purchase drugs online more than others.
For example, over 45% of citizens in Finland use the dark web to purchase drugs.
Other countries where buying drugs online has become a prevalent issue are the US, England and Australia, with statistics showing 24, 18, and 17% within the respective countries.
Today, having access to drugs without a valid prescription is much easier and quicker than in previous years.
One study asked participants to compare the efficiency of drug deliveries to other products delivered to their front door, such as takeout food, like pizza.
Consumers often get access to drugs quicker than fast – food.
The study showed that out of 15,000 Cocaine users, 30% reported that they could get Cocaine delivered to their home in less than 30 minutes after purchase.
Pizza deliveries, on the other hand, were only 16%.
Buying drugs on the street
Buying drugs online has become more attractive as authorities have clamped down on the street – dealers through police investigation and tight-knit camera surveillance.
Hence, dealing drugs on the street is becoming less viable and attractive to customers and suppliers (Organised Crime and Corruption Report Project, May 2018).
Buying drugs online might seem alluring and a good source for purchasing prescription drugs for many people.
Some research shows that online drug sales have continued to grow as more and more U.S. citizens fill their prescriptions on the internet.
It’s not surprising that many people turn to online pharmacies since they offer the convenience and reduced prices on prescription drugs that many consumers want.
The dangers of buying drugs without a prescription
Internet pharmacy drug – purchases, as attractive as they might seem, come at a considerable price – and can present many dangers to consumers.
Many online pharmacies use the internet to break or skirt the law, with many consumers getting misled into taking risks that can lead to severe damage to their physical and mental health.
Online pharmacy statistics
A study review conducted in 2013 by the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy (NABP) found that a whopping 97% of internet pharmacies violate practice standards and pharmacy laws.
Violating pharmacy practice
Unfortunately, it can be almost impossible to prosecute such violators as online drug sellers may evade or avoid authorities by moving their locations outside of the country or hiding their online identities.
Moreover, customers that use online pharmacies to buy drugs often engage in risky behaviours, understanding the dangers but deciding to purchase anyway.
Do lower prices mean that you are getting a good deal?
Customers buying drugs online often get misled into thinking they are getting a good deal.
However, all this couldn’t be further from the truth, as over 95% of websites selling prescription drugs online do so illegally.
Prices have increased for purchasing medicine.
Over the years, the cost of buying medicine has soared drastically.
For example, between 2006 and 2017, the prices for popular name-brand prescription drugs increased by 214%, resulting in many consumers going on the internet to buy their prescription medications at lower prices.
The efficiency and availability for people to go online and purchase prescription drugs in bulk quantities and get them shipped directly to where they live can make gaining access to medication easier.
But such efficiency doesn’t equal safety.
Health risks associated with buying drugs online and without a valid prescription
Researchers reported that those turning to an online pharmacy are getting misled about the efficacy of their drugs.
”What people think they are taking is not what they are taking,” says Gary Warner, director of research and computer forensics at UAB.
Warner says that in Arizona, the authorities seized over 350,000 fentanyl pills wrongly labelled as Oxycontin.
The good news is that researchers at UAB have since partnered with social media platforms like Facebook to keep a closer eye and crackdown on illegal drug sales, particularly opioid use.
The UAB team has cracked down on illicit drug sales by developing a specific algorithm that picks up popular street drug slang.
For example, street slang used to describe Fentanyl will automatically be flagged, resulting in the content getting removed, which means that consumers cannot access the drug from such websites.
Consumers are putting their health at risk, but they also break the law by buying prescription drugs online.
In many countries, purchasing drugs without a valid prescription is not considered legitimate or legal, and it is also profoundly dangerous for the consumer.
Literature shows that consumers use the internet more than ever, with health concerns being the sixth most prevalent reason people go online.
Instead of traditional ways of obtaining medication, many people buy prescription drugs on the internet since it (seemingly) offers advantages not available from a local drugstore.
Some of the reasons people buy drugs online include:
- Comparative shopping among sites to find the best prices and products
- Greater convenience and variety of products
- Greater availability of drugs, mainly for those living far away from a pharmacy
- The opportunity for consumers to order products and consult with a pharmacist in the privacy of their homes
Buying drugs without a valid prescription
However, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), many online pharmacies are rogue, claiming that they sell prescription medications at discounted prices, usually without requiring a valid prescription.
Such pharmacies often sell counterfeit or unapproved medications which are not safeguarded by licensed pharmacies, making them extremely dangerous to consumers.
Online pharmacies are often guilty of flaunting the safety laws put in place to protect consumers against unapproved or counterfeit medicines.
The safest option for obtaining prescription drugs is the traditional method of visiting your doctor and getting a valid prescription.
Without it, you are at profound risk of damaging your health.
If you want further information about the topics mentioned in this article, please get in touch with our specialist team at White River Manor.