Hundreds of illegal online pharmacies ignore federal laws and certification standards as they fill hundreds of prescriptions each day, according to a study by the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University, the AP/Washington Post reports.
The study found 581 Web sites that offer controlled prescription drugs, up from 492 in 2004. Most of the sites were portals, meaning they do not sell drugs directly, but lead browsers to anchor sites.
The study also identified 187 anchor sites, 157 of which did not require a prescription. Ninety-one of the anchor sites were located outside of the U.S., where there are different safety standards for medicine, according to the study.
The National Association of Boards of Pharmacy has created a voluntary verification process for online pharmacies to ensure that they comply with the law and require patients to be examined by a physician. So far, only 13 Web sites have received verification, the AP/Post reports.
Congress is considering legislation to clarify federal law on online pharmacies and increase penalties for selling prescription drugs to minors.
West Virginia and Kentucky require all pharmacies shipping prescriptions to the states to be registered with each state's Board of Pharmacy. Idaho, Wisconsin, Arkansas and Texas have passed similar laws addressing Internet pharmacies (Breen, AP/Washington Post, 8/23).
NBC's "Nightly News" on Wednesday reported on Internet sales of controlled substances. The segment includes comments from Joseph Rannazzisi of the Drug Enforcement Administration (Williams, "Nightly News," NBC, 8/22). Video of the segment is available online.