"Canadian" Internet Pharmacies Likely to Be Scams, Study Finds

AUGUST 01, 2005
Ken Rankin

American consumers who buy drugs on the Internet from "Canadian" pharmacies are likely to be victimized by on-line frauds masquerading as legitimate sources of low-cost prescriptions, according to a new study commissioned by the FDA.

Researchers at the Internet tracking firm Cyveillance identified a whopping 11,000 Web sites designed to look like Canadian pharmacies, but found that less than 1 in 10 (1009) actually sold prescription drugs. Of that group, only 214 offered registration data confirming that they were a Canadian company.

According to the researchers, many of the pseudo-Canadian pharmacy sites are actually Internet companies operating in the United States. Others claiming to be Canadian drug dispensaries were located in such diverse countries as Barbados, Australia, Vietnam, and El Salvador.

The results of the FDA-sponsored survey sparked an angry response from the president of the Canadian International Pharmacy Association (CIPA), who called for the phony sites to be shut down.

"The irony of it all is that we get criticism," said CIPA President Andy Troszok, whose members account for 80% of legitimate medication shipments to the United States. "The real harm is caused by the illicit sites, and most of these are in the United States, and not in Canada. We want those sites to be shut down."

Mr. Rankin is a freelance medical writer.