Internet pharmacies and online prescription drug sales: a cross sectional study.

Christopher Littlejohn (Lead / Corresponding author), Alex Baldacchino, Fabrizio Schifano, Paulo Deluca

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    38 Citations (Scopus)


    Psychonaut2002 is a European Union, multi-site research project to investigate the developing relationship between the Internet and drugs with abuse potential. This paper describes the findings of the Scotland research site, which investigated the online availability of prescription drugs. The project used a cross-sectional study to investigate 275 English-language websites, found by searching and for ‘prescription drugs’. We found that online pharmacies selling prescription drugs can be classified into four types: (1) legitimate pharmacies; (2) subscription pharmacies; (3) lifestyle pharmacies; and (4) no-prescription pharmacies. The paper considers these findings in relation to what is already known about Internet access. We specifically consider the issues of literacy, Internet access, and credit-card ownership in relation to online pharmacies. We suggest that those from higher socioeconomic groups would be most able to access online pharmacies. However, drug abuse within this population may not be so readily recognized. Efforts to bridge the digital divide may increase access to Internet-sourced drugs amongst those in lower socioeconomic groups. We conclude that stereotypical notions of drug abuse being limited to lower socioeconomic groups may need to change. Increased Internet access may increase the role of the Internet in drug abuse.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)75-80
    JournalDrugs: Education, Prevention and Policy
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 2005

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