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Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Easy for the drug dealers to sneak into your living room: Online drug sales

"The Internet made it easy for the drug dealers to sneak into your living room," said Francine Haight of La Mesa, California, whose son Ryan died in 2001 at 18 from an overdose of hydrocodone, generic Vicodin, which he had secretly ordered online with a debit card. An A-student and varsity tennis player, he had claimed in an online questionnaire to be a 25-year-old with back pain. He got his prescription and received the drug in the mail. His mother, a registered nurse, has fought against online sales since then.

In April, the U.S. Senate passed the Ryan Haight Online Pharmacy Consumer Protection Act, which would require certification of online pharmacies. It would also require doctors see patients before prescribing controlled substances. The bill is now in committee in the U.S. House of Representatives. At least eight states have passed laws barring electronic prescribing or sales without a legitimate prescription.

"Abuse of prescription drugs has exploded among college students, and…one way they get these drugs is over the Internet," said Joseph Califano, the director of the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University. The use of prescription opioids and anxiety drugs, especially in combination, accounts for a growing share of deadly overdoses nationwide.

Advice to parents of college students: Read their monthly credit card statements.

Read another prescription drug overdose story affecting a well-known actor.

Thanks to Erik Eckholm for the source article in the July 9 issue of the New York Times.

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