A report by LegitScript.com criticizes the federal Drug Enforcement Administration for not doing enough about so-called rogue online pharmacies, which the Internet pharmacy monitoring service said sell addictive medications without a valid prescription.


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Study: DEA lax in cracking down on 'rogue' online Rx

June 8th, 2011

PORTLAND, Ore. – A report by LegitScript.com criticizes the federal Drug Enforcement Administration for not doing enough about so-called rogue online pharmacies, which the Internet pharmacy monitoring service said sell addictive medications without a valid prescription.

LegiScript said Wednesday that its report examines the DEA's implementation of the Ryan Haight Online Pharmacy Consumer Protection Act, a 2009 law named after an 18-year-old who died after buying Vicodin and Xanax online without a valid prescription.

Introduced by Sens. Dianne Feinstein (D., Calif.) and Jeff Sessions (R., Ala.), the law gave the DEA new powers to fight illegal online pharmaceutical sales, but the report noted that DEA officials had filed no cases under the new law as of late 2010, according to LegiScript.

The LegitScript study cited senior DEA officials as stating, in late 2010, that "the Internet is [no longer] as big of a problem" and that "[the DEA] has not found many Internet pharmacies selling controlled substances." Yet the report identified 1,000 rogue Internet pharmacies actively promoting controlled substances without a prescription to U.S. residents, in most cases without any age verification.

"We're issuing this report because the DEA continues to take the unsupportable position that the rogue Internet pharmacy is all but solved. Meanwhile, these Internet drug dealers continue to operate with impunity, laughing all the way to the bank," LegitScript president John Horton said in a statement. "Simply put, the DEA has failed to use the tools Congress gave it to fight this problem."

What's more, the LegitScript study contends that most of the illicit pharmcy websites are subject to U.S. jurisdiction. "It is entirely reasonable to ask the DEA why these websites remain online," the report stated.

According to LegitScript, the report follows a May 2011 study by Massachusetts General Hospital showing that prescription drug abuse is increasing fastest in regions with the greatest expansion in high-speed Internet access. That study argued that increased access to rogue Internet pharmacies was to blame, noted the online pharmacy verifier, whose monitoring program is recognized by the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy.

An estimated 36 million Americans, or one in six people, have bought prescription drugs online without a doctor's prescription, according to research released in December by The Partnership at Drugfree.org and funded by the Alliance for Safe Online Pharmacies (ASOP).

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