No Prescription? No Problem! So reports the Associated Press, which has been investigating the disturbing trend of narcotic drug distribution via the Internet.
According to the AP, in Appalachia, the focal point of the trend, illegal drug shipments from illegal pharmacies are so frequent that FedEx and UPS have had to add extra delivery trucks! The DEA says that 95% of internet pharmacy shipments are for controlled substances, compared to just 11% for all drug channels.
Some key quotes out of the article:
“For people addicted to prescription medications like the painkiller hydrocodone — sold mostly as Vicodin — the days of ‘doctor shopping’ are over, as long as they have Internet access. With the help of unscrupulous doctors and pharmacists, hundreds of Web sites dispense prescription narcotics to customers in exchange for nothing more than a credit card number.”
“The Web sites approach doctors, often those who are in debt or retired and are seeking extra income. The doctors write prescriptions after they review online questionnaires filled out by customers. They are usually paid between $10 and $25 for each prescription.”
But who needs rogue Internet pharmacies when you have a New Hampshire? To get around the issue of tracking drug prescriptions, New Hampshire enacted a physician secrecy ban (see Pill Mill Doctors ). Blocking data from data companies (and thus their clients like pharmaceutical companies and the government) has been a primary strategy for enabling doctor shopping. No need to order off a rogue pharmacy—just find a New Hampshire physician!
Anecdotal evidence from a sampling of New Hampshire pharmacies suggests that during the data ban (the New Hampshire law was overturned in the courts), there was an up tick in narcotic usage in the state. Prior to the ban, New Hampshire was already having a serious problem with prescription drug abuse (see New Hampshire Prescription Drug Abuse ).
The brainchild behind the effort was State Representative Cindy Rosenwald, who introduced the legislation on behalf of her husband, a New Hampshire physician.