Screenshot of an Eva brand fake online pharmacy
UCSD researchers have collected data that shows that 33% of medications purchased by Americans from a fake Internet pharmacy affiliate program are for serious illness. They estimate that 85% of all serious illness medication purchased online from fake online pharmacies is purchased by Americans.
Researchers at the University of San Diego analyzed the web traffic data logs of a major fake internet pharmacy consortium, Eva Pharmacy, and discovered that 33% of American purchases are for serious illnesses, including “anxiety, sinus infection, high blood pressure, hair loss, cancer and infertility,” reports Brian Krebs in MIT’s Technology Review.
In contrast, Canadian and Western-European customers overwhelmingly bought “lifestyle” medications, i.e. erectile dysfunction and human growth hormone pills, with only 8% of medications purchases for health conditions.
Said Chris Kanich, a doctoral candidate at UCSD and lead study researcher, “People are going to them when they’re either too embarrassed to talk to a doctor, or when it would be far too expensive to buy these drugs otherwise.”
Researchers extrapolated that the largest fake Internet pharmacies generate between $1 million and $2.5 million in sales each month, although they believe that their estimate is low.
The researchers culled their findings from transaction data from seven of the top spam-advertised pharmacies. By making targeted buys from each pharmacy brand, they discovered that the pharmacies assign sequential order numbers to purchases. And by following web traffic log data from advertising sites, they discovered the number of visitors and the country of origin of each customer.
The researchers write, “…a subset of uninsured or underinsured customers in the U.S. may view spam-advertised, no-prescription-required pharmacies as a competitive market for meeting their medical needs. To further underscore this point, we observe that 85 percent of all non-lifestyle drugs are selected by U.S. visitors.”