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Larissa Doucette

Over 45,000 Tweets promoted drug abuse over a two-week period of Tweets, indicates a study published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research. More specifically, the study shows that illegal Internet drug outlets are using Twitter to promote abuse of prescription controlled substances (CS). More than three-quarters (76%) of the over 2 million Tweets analyzed that discussed drug abuse were found to contain links to a rogue marketing website that advertised the sale of the CS Valium®, a commonly abused tranquilizer. This website “had a hyperlink prominently displayed on its landing page that sent users to an illegal online pharmacy that offered the sale of several other controlled substances without a prescription, a direct violation of Federal law under the Ryan Haight Act,” states Tim Mackey, MAS, PhD, director of the Global Health Policy Institute (GHPi) at University of California, San Diego and co-author of the paper, “Establishing a Link Between Prescription Drug Abuse and Illicit Online Pharmacies: Analysis of Twitter Data.” More information is available in an Alliance for Safe Online Pharmacies and GHPi press release.

Consumers can avoid rogue online drug outlets by buying from websites with a .pharmacy Top-Level Domain (TLD) name, experts say in the article. Just by seeing the .pharmacy TLD, consumers will know that a website is legitimate and operating legally and meets all applicable regulatory standards. Safe sites can be located on the .pharmacy website. Experts in the article also recommend consumers use NABP’s list of Verified Internet Pharmacy Practice Sites® (VIPPS®).