You’ve Got Drugs! Internet Prescription Drug Pushers 2008 | Center on Addiction

“You've Got Drugs!” V: Prescription Drug Pushers on the Internet

“You've Got Drugs!” V: Prescription Drug Pushers on the Internet

Published: July 2008

Add this reports


This series of white papers documents the alarming availability of controlled, dangerous, addictive prescription drugs on the Internet. This lack of control threatens the safety of millions of Americans, contributes to prescription drug abuse and demands immediate attention.


The goal of this investigation was to determine the ease of obtaining controlled prescription medications online. Using common Internet search engines, investigators identified, over the course of a 1-week period, websites that were involved in the sale of a list of target controlled prescription drugs, and documented drug availability, prescription requirements and accessibility by children.  


Despite a decline in the number of websites advertising or selling controlled prescription drugs like OxyContin and Valium, Xanax and Vicodin, and Ritalin and Adderall in the past year, 85% of websites that sold such drugs did not require a prescription. We found a total of 365 websites that advertised or sold controlled prescription drugs in 2008, compared to 581 sites during the same period in 2007. Only 2 of the 365 sites were certified by the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy as Verified Internet Pharmacy Practice SitesTM, the same number certified in 2006 and 2007. The report identified an emerging practice of Internet sites selling prescriptions for controlled drugs that can be filled at local pharmacies. The report also found sites selling online “medical consultations,” where doctors see many patients a day to fill or refill prescriptions for controlled drugs without regard for the standards of medical practice.

This report illustrates the extensive level of Internet activity related to controlled prescription drugs. This year, the number of sites that advertised and offered controlled prescription drugs for sale declined from 2007. This decline may have been a function of efforts on the part of federal agencies, state governments and financial institutions to crack down on Internet trafficking; however, widespread availability continues.


The report includes the following recommendations:

  • Internet search engines should block all advertisements for controlled prescription drugs that do not come from licensed and certified online pharmacies
  • The U.S. should negotiate treaties with foreign governments to help shut down Internet trafficking of controlled prescription drugs

Download the full report

Download The Full Report

Download Adobe Acrobat Reader to view the full-text versions of our reports online.

Newsletter Additional Information

Newsletter Additional Information

Thank you for subscribing

This information will be used to better customize your experience and help inform future tools and features on our website.

Additional Information
What brought you to our website?