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Study Highlights Risk of Online Drug Purchases

Dr. Mark Baron, of the School of Natural and Applied Sciences, published a study in the Drug Testing and Analysis Journal for May 2011 which exposes the likelihood drugs purchased on the internet may not contain the ingredients they claim. 

The study published May 20, 2011 in the Journal of Drug Testing and Analysis, purchased tables from different websites to evaluate their contents, reports Wiley-Blackwell.  

“It is clear that consumers are buying products that they think contain specific substances, but that in reality the labels are unreliable indicators of the actual contents,” says Dr. Baron, a professor at the  School of Natural and Applied Sciences at the University of Lincoln, UK.

Baron says that based upon name alone, products cannot be identified.  “The product name cannot be used as an indication of what it contains as there is variation in the content of the same product name between different internet sites.”

The internet has a number of substances identified as “legal highs” by their website advertisements that are readily available for purchase.  Baron’s study identifies the drug contents in some of these products purchased online.   A number products which were identified as non-consumables like bath salts, research chemiccals or plant food, were advertised for human consumption for recreational drug use.  

Baron purchased seven products, six of which did not contain the advertised active ingredient. However, five samples contained unidentified control substances, currently banned in the UK.  

“These findings show that the legal high market is providing a route to supply banned substances,” says Baron. He hopes that this work will help consumers become more aware of the dangers of purchasing products from the internet.

By S. Imber

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