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The authors searched Google, Amazon, and eBay for prescription medications available for online purchase. Numerous medications were available without a prescription and often at a price lower than that offered by the coupon service GoodRx.com.
Dermatologic medications available included topical corticosteroids, antifungals, and acne treatments as well as systemic medications such as isotretinoin, doxycycline, and ketoconazole. The authors actually purchased isotretinoin from a seller outside the United States and received the medication in the mail within a few days. Physicians should be aware of this illegal practice and help to educate patients on the potential dangers of taking medications that have not been prescribed.
– Caitlyn T. Reed, MD
This abstract is available on the publisher's site.
Few scientific and journalistic reports have examined the availability of prescription medications via illicit online sellers. In the past, attention has been concentrated on the sale of psychotherapeutic and erectile dysfunction medications. However, an online search performed from March 1, 2019, to April 15, 2019, of online sellers found 25 prescription medications available for purchase without a prescription (Table 1). The Google, eBay, and Amazon search engines were used. The search terms used in the search engines were "buy [drug name]" for both generic and trade names of medications. Although many were topical medications with limited side effects, several systemic medications were available including antihypertensive, antibiotic, antifungal, and acne medications. The availability of isotretinoin, a therapy prescribed for the treatment of severe nodulocystic acne, was the most alarming given its high risk of teratogenicity.