Teens and seniors fuel the rise in online sales of illegal prescription drugs

Health experts are warning families that the threat of illegal drug sales through social media and other online websites is increasing.

A new study from Butler University finds that it largely affects two groups of people, seniors who hope to save money on drugs by buying online and teens who are looking to obtain prescription drugs without a prescription.

“The types of drugs purchased online are very varied as well as the media or social media used. From messaging services to the ones we generally know like Snapchat or Twitter, all are used to buy prescription drugs online in fairly large numbers, ”said Dr. John Hertig, assistant professor at Butler University College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences. .

And in either case, buying drugs online can be dangerous, especially in cases where they could be counterfeit.

“We don’t know where these drugs come from and we don’t know what they contain, which poses a significant risk to patient safety,” added Dr Hertig.

For older patients, the choice to buy illegal drugs is due to their lower cost, convenience, anonymity, and ease of access.

“Healthcare is expensive and we live in a culture where going online for a better deal is part of what we do, from holiday giveaways to prescription drugs, so cost is key,” said the Dr Hertig. “Convenience can be looked at, I live in a wasteland of pharmacies, I don’t have access to a brick and mortar drugstore, I need a more convenient way to access health care and the Internet can be a great tool in terms of convenience. “

One way to keep yourself safe is to ask a healthcare professional to recommend where to get the prescription.

There are also websites like GoodRx and Check Before You Buy to check the pharmacy you are looking to buy before you do so.

When it comes to teens getting these drugs online, Dr Hertig says the best thing to do is discuss with your family the danger of buying prescription drugs from unknown sources.

“Parents need to engage in this dialogue with their children and tell them that you are not even getting what you think you are getting and that you have no idea what the end result will be and that the risk is not worth it. the potential fatal outcome. “said Dr Hertig.

In addition to educating people not to use these sites, the other main way to fight these illegal drugs is to reduce the supply, which includes the involvement of law enforcement.

At one time, there were between 35,000 and 45,000 illegal drugstore websites, 95% of which sold illicit products.

However, there are few ways to track exactly how many people buy these drugs on social media, and it’s hard to stop them from happening.

“We live in a world where the use of the Internet will only increase and it is therefore the right time to try to intervene, to try to participate in this education with our patients, to inform the professionals of the health, working with advocacy groups and legislatures to ensure that we don’t unintentionally direct people to unsafe sources of drugs, ”said Dr Hertig. “We can’t just tell our patients oh just google it and you’ll be fine, we don’t live in this world anymore.”

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