Rx Report Highlights Urgency of Acting on Opioid Crisis

November 25, 2019

Topics: Internet Pharmacies

The National Association of Boards of Pharmacy® (NABP®) released the Rogue Rx: Activity Report, highlighting the continued pervasiveness of illegal online opioid sales. The report, released in November, provides important statistics from the Association’s continuous review of the online pharmacy landscape.

Of the 1,543 new pharmacy websites added to NABP’s Not Recommended List in the first half of 2019:

  • nearly one-third sold controlled substances (CS), including Adderall®; Valium®; Xanax®; and opioids, such as codeine, oxycodone, and fentanyl, a drug that is up to 100 times stronger than morphine;
  • 99% of those Not Recommended sites selling CS did not require a prescription; and
  • 94% sold drug compounds that were not Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved.

Despite pockets of improvements, the opioid epidemic in the United States continues to be a major problem, with opioid-related overdose deaths increasing 90% from 2013 to 2017, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). It is greatly impacting communities, as CDC data shows opioid-related overdose deaths increased in 18 states in 2018.

Fentanyl, which has been identified as the primary component of the “third wave” of the nation’s opioid epidemic, can be ordered from illegal online drug sellers. It has been found in counterfeit drugs of all kinds sold both online and on the streets. This potent drug can have deadly consequences for those who ingest it.

Solutions to this problem require collaboration between multiple entities, including the government, advocates, and internet stakeholders. FDA and patient advocates have called on internet stakeholders to restrict access to illegal online drug sellers. Some, including Google and Bing, are acting by deindexing illegally operating websites. Facebook and Instagram have begun redirecting users looking for opioids to a government helpline.

With the online sale of opioids putting the lives of patients, family, and friends at risk, there is a lot at stake. NABP urges internet stakeholders, such as search engine companies and social networks, to take additional proactive steps to help stem the opioid crisis.