The availability of web sites offering to sell opioid medications without prescriptions
ABSTRACT This study was designed to determine the availability of web sites offering to sell opioid medications without prescriptions.
Forty-seven Internet searches were conducted with a variety of opioid medication terms, including "codeine," "no prescription Vicodin," and "OxyContin." Two independent raters examined the links generated in each search and resolved any coding disagreements. The resulting links were coded as "no prescription web sites" (NPWs) if they offered to sell opioid medications without prescriptions.
In searches with terms such as "no prescription codeine" and "Vicodin," over 50% of the links obtained were coded as "NPWs." The proportion of links yielding NPWs was greater when the phrase "no prescription" was added to the opioid term. More than 300 opioid NPWs were identified and entered into a database.
Three national drug-use monitoring studies have cited significant increases in prescription opioid use over the past 5 years, particularly among young people. The emergence of NPWs introduces a new vector for unregulated access to opioids. Research is needed to determine the effect of NPWs on prescription opioid use initiation, misuse, and dependence.
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ABSTRACT: Background Evidence suggests that consumers potentially put themselves at risk when purchasing medicines on-line. Whilst logos provided by regulators may provide some level of reassurance there may be other indicators which could be used by consumers to identify those websites which may be safely used. Objectives Identify characteristics of on-line pharmacies which are related to whether websites are regulated or non-regulated and those characteristics which could be used by patients to increase the likelihood of accessing regulated sites. Setting Online pharmacies which supply diazepam, fluoxetine and simvastatin. Methods Using piloted search terms via Google and Yahoo search engines, identified websites were screened for regulatory status, adherence to regulatory standards, administrative requirements, clinical assessment requirements and additional details deemed to be of relevance to a user. Characteristics of regulated and non-regulated (defined as those with an absence of a correctly linked regulatory logo) websites were compared to identify differences which could be used to improve patient safety. Main outcome measure Regulatory status, adherence to regulatory standards, quality of information provision, barriers to medicines access. Results 113 websites sold diazepam, fluoxetine and simvastatin; were identified within the first 100 results. Less than quarter were found to be regulated online pharmacies. 80 websites were willing to sell the medication without a prescription. The unregulated internet pharmacy websites (defined as those with an absence of a correctly linked regulatory logo) were found to adhere more closely to the clinical criteria, were less significantly likely to disclose a contact name and address, telephone number of the pharmacy or demand a prescription prior to sale (P Conclusions The three prescription-only medicines which are liable to abuse, have potentially serious interactions and require counselling to ensure patient safety are readily available via the internet. When purchasing medicines via this route UK consumers should be made aware of the importance of regulatory logos and additionally should ensure that the seller can be meaningfully contacted by the contact details provided. The provision of clinical information should not be used alone as an indication of the seller’s provenance.International Journal of Clinical Pharmacy 01/2015; 37(1). DOI:10.1007/s11096-014-0056-1 · 1.25 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: Recent increases in the nonmedical use of pharmaceutical opioids and the adverse outcomes associated with them have stimulated a large amount of research and data collection on this public health problem. Systematic organization of the available data sources is needed to facilitate ongoing research, analysis, and evaluation. This work offers a systematic categorization of data sources regarding the nonmedical use of pharmaceutical opioids in the United States. A list of keywords regarding the nonmedical use of pharmaceutical opioids was used to conduct systematic searches in PubMed®. Filtration of search results generated 92 peer-reviewed academic articles, published between January 1995 and April 2012, as well as a number of primary data sources. Lists of topics were developed independently by two researchers which were later compared and consolidated. All sources were then categorized according to their relevance to each of these topics and according to their capacity for geographical and longitudinal trend analysis. Tables cataloging data sources can be used to identify data relevant to specific topics in diversion, nonmedical use, and adverse outcomes associated with pharmaceutical opioids, and they illustrate global trends in data coverage, identifying several topics that have minimal data. A network diagram illustrates global trends in data coverage, showing variation among sources in the number of topics they cover, as well as variation among topics in the number of sources that cover them. The categorization of data sources is hoped to facilitate ongoing research, analysis, and evaluation of this public health problem by serving as a guide for researchers, policy makers, and others who seek data regarding the nonmedical use of pharmaceutical opioids in the United States.