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[e-drug] Internet drug trafficking

E-DRUG: Internet drug trafficking
BMJ on trafficking of (narcotic) drugs. Might be relevant for
trafficking of ordinary drugs too. Copied as fair use.

BMJ 2001;322:512 ( 3 March )

News extra

Internet drug trafficking needs international counter offensive

Rohit Sharma Mumbai 

An international collaboration is needed to stamp out internet 
trafficking of narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances around 
the world, the International Narcotics Control Board has urged. 

Some online companies advertise that they can provide 
prescription drugs without prescription or that their dispensing 
pharmacy can issue the prescription, said the control board in its 
annual report. Two internet pharmacies in Bangkok and one in 
Chiang Mai, Thailand, mainly serving the US market, were closed 
down between November 1999 and January 2000 after raids by Thai 
authorities with the close collaboration of US Drug Enforcement 
Administration. These pharmacies were sending parcels of drugs to 
US citizens, including many drug addicts, who could not get their 
prescription from US doctors. 

The control board's survey points out that internet drug trafficking 
has only recently come to the notice of most national authorities, 
and very few have taken legal action to stem it. "We do not know 
the amount of internet drug trafficking, but with 600 million internet 
users at present, we want the governments to take action," said Mr 
Chinmay Chakrabarty, a member of the International Narcotics 
Control Board. 

The report warned of the potential for errors and misuse of the 
internet in facilitating medical and pharmaceutical services for large 
sections of society at low costs. "Substituting direct patient-doctor 
contact by electronic communication is problematic, particularly 
concerning the diagnosis of psychiatric disorders and prescriptions 
of controlled drugs," it said. 

Over-consumption of controlled drugs in the developed world was 
caused by several factors?easy availability, loose regulation, and 
unethical practices, said the report. On the other hand, there is an 
undersupply in the developing world of much needed narcotic drugs 
for legitimate medicinal purposes, such as pain relief. 

The report stated that in most countries of Africa the misuse of 
psychotropic substances seems to be rising. In Asia, the ongoing 
production of opium in Afghanistan, a leading world producer of 
opium, and the resultant smuggling of opiates and criminal 
activities in western Asia, remains a major concern, said the 

In Europe the availability of drugs and the misuse of synthetic 
drugs and cocaine are increasing. Europe remains a major source 
of illegally manufactured amphetamines and amphetamine-type 
stimulants, especially ecstasy, for the whole world. "MDMA 
(Ecstasy) of western European origin is increasingly being abused 
by young people in North America," said the report. It stated that 
cultivation of highly potent cannabis under laboratory conditions "is 
spreading in Canada and parts of the US and continues to 
constitute a major concern to law enforcement authorities." 

In the United States the rate of cocaine misuse among 
adolescents has declined by 14% since from 1998 1999, whereas 
in Canada, drug misuse among secondary school students is 
showing an increase, according to some surveys, said the report. 

The International Narcotics Control Board's report is available at 
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