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WASHINGTON — Tens of millions of Americans have bought medications online without a prescription, according to a new study.
According to research funded by the Alliance for Save Online Pharmacies and released by The Partnership at DrugFree.org, illegal online pharmacies have sold drugs to 36 million Americans.
Many independent and chain retail pharmacies operate websites and there also are reputable online pharmacies, such as Drugstore.com. However, a number of illegal online pharmacies also exist, and buying drugs from them opens consumers to the risk of taking counterfeit, adulterated or unapproved medications.
“Those who sell prescription drugs online without a valid prescription are operating illegally, undercutting the laws that were put in place to protect patients, and are thereby endangering the public health,” U.S. intellectual property enforcement coordinator Victoria Espinel said. “It is a real wake-up call that so many Americans have engaged in this dangerous behavior.”
At the White House Intellectual Property Health and Safety Forum on Tuesday, Espinel said 11 companies had joined to create a nonprofit group designed to target illegal online pharmacies, including American Express, Visa, MasterCard, PayPal, eNom, Google, Microsoft, Neustar, Network Solutions, Yahoo! and Go Daddy.