Internet pharmacies and online prescription drug sales: a cross-sectional study

Christopher Littlejohn, Alexander Mario Baldacchino, Fabrizio Schifano, Paulo Deluca

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

37 Citations (Scopus)


Psychonaut2002 is a European Union, multi-site research project to investigate the developing relationship between the Internet and drugs with abuse potential. This paper describes the findings of the Scotland research site, which investigated the online availability of prescription drugs. The project used a cross-sectional study to investigate 275 English-language websites, found by searching and for ?prescription drugs?. We found that online pharmacies selling prescription drugs can be classified into four types: (1) legitimate pharmacies; (2) subscription pharmacies; (3) lifestyle pharmacies; and (4) no-prescription pharmacies. The paper considers these findings in relation to what is already known about Internet access. We specifically consider the issues of literacy, Internet access, and credit-card ownership in relation to online pharmacies. We suggest that those from higher socioeconomic groups would be most able to access online pharmacies. However, drug abuse within this population may not be so readily recognized. Efforts to bridge the digital divide may increase access to Internet-sourced drugs amongst those in lower socioeconomic groups. We conclude that stereotypical notions of drug abuse being limited to lower socioeconomic groups may need to change. Increased Internet access may increase the role of the Internet in drug abuse.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)75-80
Number of pages6
JournalDrugs: Education, Prevention and Policy
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2005


Dive into the research topics of 'Internet pharmacies and online prescription drug sales: a cross-sectional study'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this