The National Association of Boards of Pharmacy (NABP) has just released their Internet Drug Outlet Identification Program Progress Report for February 2018. NABP has conducted an annual survey of Internet drug outlets for the last nine years, and this year it is finding that fake online pharmacies are rushing to get on the fentanyl bandwagon.
From July 1 to December 31, 2017, the NABP examined 100 websites that offered prescription medication for sale to U.S. residents. “On each of the 100 websites identified as Not Recommended, NABP searched first for any CS (controlled substances), and second for fentanyl and four other drugs commonly found to be counterfeited with fentanyl: Norco, oxycodone, Percocet, and Xanax. NABP found more than half (54%) of the sites to be selling CS. The 54% of sites found to be selling CS is a substantial jump from the 13% of all sites NABP has reviewed and listed as Not Recommended over the past nine years.”
This specialized examination of fentanyl and controlled substances for sale on fake pharmacy websites was in addition to the annual survey the NABP conducts, which looks at internet outlets offering prescription drugs for sale. The sites are evaluated by several criteria, including whether or not they provide a valid prescription, if they provide a U.S. street address, and if they comply with U.S. Federal law governing the sale of prescription pharmaceuticals. During the same time period of their more focused fentanyl study, the NABP found that of 11,749 internet drug outlets offering prescription drugs for sale to U.S. residents, 11,242 were “found to be operating out of compliance with state and federal laws and/or NABP patient safety and pharmacy practice standards.”
NABP lists these sites as “Not Recommended” and discourages U.S. patients from using them as a source of medication. They warn that sites that do not require a prescription often sell foreign or unapproved drugs that may well be counterfeit.
The NABP’s specific examination of controlled substances and fentanyl for sale further found a disturbing trend. While promoted ads for fake online pharmacies have diminished in Google searches, entering terms such as “fentanyl for sale” into an organic Google search turned up hundreds of sites. The NABP tracked more than 500 U.S.-linked transactions from these illegal sites.