Prescription drugs, as readers know, are illegal to buy and sell apart from the normal channels, and those who are caught engaging in such activity can face federal drug charges. One does not normally think of illegal drug trafficking as being done openly, which is why it is a bit surprising that consumers are able to purchase prescription drugs illegally on Amazon.com and other websites.
Drugs such as antibiotics, muscle relaxants, and anabolic steroids have been and are available to consumers through third party merchants on Amazon. All of these, of course, are either illegal or not legally available without a prescription.
Consumers don’t necessarily know they are purchasing drugs illegally, though. They may simply read a positive review of a product, order it, and come to discover that what they’ve purchased is an illegally obtained drug. Amazon isn’t the only website which offers prescription drugs for illegal sale. In fact, the Food and Drug Administration and U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials recently seized hundreds of packages containing illegal prescription drugs set to go out to those who purchased them online. Chances are they didn’t all come from Amazon.
Although consumers who purchase such drugs may not ultimately face criminal prosecution for their support of the illegal drug trade—many don’t even know that what they’re purchasing is illegal—there is still the issue of consumer safety and the pollution of the channels of trade. The more this activity happens, the more likely it is to spread if not stopped. And the more illegal prescriptions drugs are made available on sites like Amazon, the more likely it is that consumers will become repeat customers.
All of this, of course, is cause for concern and is hopefully going to be addressed in an effective way by federal officials.
Source: Slate, “Amazon’s Illegal Drug Dealing,” Ford Vox, May 29, 2014.