Shady Online Pharmacies Just Signs Of A Deeper Problem

from the bad-pills dept

A Canadian woman recently died after taking pills that she acquired through the internet. It’s not clear what pills, exactly, proved fatal, but apparently she bought a sedative that’s illegal in Canada and some anti-anxiety medication that typically requires a prescription, which she did not have. According to investigators, the pills were bought through one of the gray-market prescription drug sites that proliferate online. So naturally, we can expect politicians to direct their ire at these sites, and propose new (ineffective) laws aimed at stopping them from doing business. After all, it usually takes just one high-profile death to make lawmakers leap into action. Obviously, it’s a problem if people are buying ersatz pills, spiked with dangerous elements. Ideally, people would get their medicine through reputable pharmacies with the advice of a medical professional. But instead of blaming the underground pill sites, perhaps lawmakers should ponder why people turn to those sites in the first place. In both the US and Canada, it can sometimes be an arduous process to get the medicine you need. At a minimum, one needs to make an appointment with a doctor to obtain a prescription, whereas in several European countries one can get prescription drugs with just the advice of the pharmacist. For things like painkillers, sedatives, anti-depressants, or anti-anxiety drugs, the process is often much more difficult. There’s a thriving market for these shady online pharmacies because the traditional health care system has shut people out. Of course, politicians much prefer to go after the visible symptoms of the problem rather than address its root causes, which would be a more difficult task.

Rate this comment as insightful
Rate this comment as funny
You have rated this comment as insightful
You have rated this comment as funny
Flag this comment as abusive/trolling/spam
You have flagged this comment
The first word has already been claimed
The last word has already been claimed
Insightful Lightbulb icon Funny Laughing icon Abusive/trolling/spam Flag icon Insightful badge Lightbulb icon Funny badge Laughing icon Comments icon

Comments on “Shady Online Pharmacies Just Signs Of A Deeper Problem”

Subscribe: RSS Leave a comment
dorpus says:

Europe is heaven?

In the supposed socialist paradise of Sweden, over-the-counter drugs like aspirin cost several times what they do here. You could either wait hours or weeks to meet a doctor, or you could travel to Russia to load up on dangerous pills.

As for traditional health care restricting access to painkillers, sedatives, anti-depressants, or anti-anxiety drugs, this is to prevent irresponsible usage. Should we give morphine to babies to shut them up?

Porpus says:

Re: Europe is heaven?

Actually Dorpus, waiting “hours or weeks” to see a doctor in the “socialist paradise” countries is no different than seeing one in the Good’ol USA. If you want to see a specific physician, then yes, you must wait for an available appointment…same as the US. If you don’t mind which physician you see, then go right in.

Plus, don’t forget that you still have a choice to see someone on your own dime as well as a State sanctioned physician.

Wizard Prang (user link) says:

Re: Re: For once...

…I’m with Dorpus. Having been born and raised in Britain, I have seen, first-hand just how inefficient socialized medicine can be.

The level of incompetence is astounding; not so much from the medical people but from the admin beaurocrats. When people complained about three-year waiting lists for treatment, the Gov’t mandated a maximum of six months on the waiting lists. So now the GPs are refuse to put you on the list… yet. Effectively, you are on an “unofficial” waiting list before you can be put on the “official” one.

If it takes months to see a Physician here in the US, it is because there are not enough to go around; the Medical Establishment likes it that way.

The system here has room for improvement, but in my experience socialized medicine simply does not work. I don’t trust the Government with my retirement; I sure don’t trust them with my health.

dorpass says:

Re: Re: Re: For once...

I lived in Canada where they have universal health care and it is by far superior to anything I’ve experienced in US. The sole goal of any HMO is to save as much as possible at any point of time. You have to beg/threaten for the necessary tests to be performed and when/if you succeed, they will interpret them in a way that is the cheapest for them. They will stall every step of the way and only when you are getting ready to die will they valiantly save you.

It’s also amusing that you would agree with dorpus when he quotes non existent facts. Doesn’t help your argument.

dorpus says:

If free markets are so great

Should enterprising doctors profit from promoting unnecessary blood transfusions? In Kazakhstan, doctors are injecting children with HIV-positive blood to “cure” them of common colds. In China, India, and Russia, people believe that blood transfusions give them “healing energies”, thanks to unregulated markets and unfettered competition.

billg says:

Of Course, They're To Blame

Blaming underground pharmacies sounds good to me. If someone started an equivalent store in a shop down the street, would you still want to give them a pass? The reason people need a doctor’s prescription to get certain drugs is that ordinary people don’t have the smarts to know how to medicate themselves. Trying to defend someone who puts lives at risk for profit simply because they happen to do business on the internet is just incredibly stupid.

Bob Sadler says:

Sometimes it's not all that clear...

Being a sufferer of Chronic and Excruciating Pain, and someone that takes 60mg Oxycontin/3x Daily, I can tell you it’s not easy to get to where I am today.

It took 5 years of diagnosis and then Neurosurgery before most doctors stopped calling me a “drug seeker”. I’m not saying there aren’t people out there that are “DRUG SEEKERS” but, why should those who are doing wrong make it so difficult for those of us that really need the medication?

I mean, should we suddenly stop selling ALL Alcohol because drunk drivers kill people? Should we stop using Credit Cards because Identity Thefts occur? The Medical system has “guarded” pain medications to the point that many states have enacted laws that require doctors to prescribe them if their only objection is that “they might cause addiction”.

The FIVE long years of my life that it took to get to where I am today was not any fun, and certainly could have been treated a lot better by the medical profession, and I personally understand why SOME PEOPLE turn to these “Shady Pharmacies” to get some relief; truth be told, I even considered them myself when I wasn’t given ANY medication for the pain I was suffering. I chose instead to keep fighting in the system, but trust me, not everyone can keep fighting like I did, and some people just give up and take their chances elsewhere.

If the MEDICAL PROFESSIONALS would start treating patients like people, instead of criminals, it might go a LONG way to closing down these “Dark Pharamacies”


Joe Smith says:


There is no indication yet how she died. She may have died from an accidental or deliberate overdose.

The quality of drugs coming from the internet pharmacies is an issue and cost is not necessarily what drives people there. British Columbia pays for doctors visits and has subsidized drugs for low income people so she may not have turned to the grey market for the drugs for financial reasons. The sense I get is that not many legitimate customers in Canada buy their drugs from the internet stores.

Anti-depressants and anti-anxiety drugs are powerful psycho active chemicals – no one should be self medicating with those things.

evgen says:

There is a reason some of this stuff is not OTC...

In both the US and Canada, it can sometimes be an arduous process to get the medicine you need. At a minimum, one needs to make an appointment with a doctor to obtain a prescription[…]For things like painkillers, sedatives, anti-depressants, or anti-anxiety drugs, the process is often much more difficult.

Yeah, what we really need is for people to avoid seeking advice from a medical professional and go around self-medicating for whatever they happen to think ails them at the moment. Because we all know that modern medicine is just a rigged game meant to keep us from the wonderful pills we all think we need.

I am not really sure what color the sky is in Joe’s world, but here in the real world we force people through medical gatekeepers because people who are not medical specialists are not equipped to determine what their problem is (no matter what they happened to have read about on the internet last week…) and they do not have the training to know what the consequences of a particular pharmaceutical might be, especially in combination with other drugs or depending on specific doses.

And no, you are not smart enough to figure this out on your own and the rest of the sub-morons clicking on Ph@rma-N0w ads are certainly not up to the task.

Cixelsid says:


As I see it, this is just simply a extension of natural selection. You want to drink those pills your ordered from that Russian site, maybe those trips you scored from a dead hobo, or stick your head into a plastic bag? Fuckin go ahead. We can use the air, moron.

As for dorpus’ comments: as usual his arguments are so out of sync with reality he might as well write about his kitten, mittens, for all the sense it makes.

Anonymous Coward says:

If people want to kill themselves by self-medication let ’em. I am diabetic and need a prescription for the insulin I take. None of the doctors I have seen will give me more than three months at a time because it’s standard for diabetics to see their physician every three months for an a1c test. All fine and dandy, except I have to pay 60 bucks out of pocket for the office visit and then all of the money for the tests they require so they can feel ‘ethically responsible’ about letting me get medicine I will die without. And to top it off, after they do the bloodwork and check me out, they offer no advice for better controlling my diabetes. So I say fuck the doctors and their ego-trips, let the retards kill themselves, and let people who need medicine get it.

egerio says:

medicine in europe

If you evaluate health care in europe by outcomes or cost, health care in europe is much better than it is here. Looking at OECD staistics, health care is much cheaper as a percentage of GDP — as little as half our cost. Outcomes are also better. That is average life is longer in Europe and infant mortality is lower.

If you argue that Europe has a different population base, you can look at Canada, which is closer to our heterogeneous population, again with much better outcomes at lower cost.

This business about wait times for service and bad outcomes doesn’t show up in the statistics, so while some of it is true, my guess is that it’s mostly a red herring designed to frighten people into accepting our really crummy system.

On drugs, I was in Barcelona last week and many items that are available only as prescription drugs here are available over the counter in Spanish pharmacies for much less. An example: RetinA. It costs over $100/tube here with a prescription. In Spain, it is available over the counter for 10 Euro and offered with a smile. Protopic, a rash medication is half the us price and over the counter.

Reform in the US will only come when business decides that it can no longer afford the health care system and dumps it on the government. The only thing that’s preventing that from happening is that most business is run by Republicans who have ideological blinders in this area.

Add Your Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here

Comment Options:

Make this the or (get credits or sign in to see balance) what's this?

What's this?

Techdirt community members with Techdirt Credits can spotlight a comment as either the "First Word" or "Last Word" on a particular comment thread. Credits can be purchased at the Techdirt Insider Shop »

Follow Techdirt

Techdirt Daily Newsletter

Techdirt Deals
Techdirt Insider Discord
The latest chatter on the Techdirt Insider Discord channel...