Healthcare Providers

Fact Sheet

Facts About Online Drug Sellers

  • A recent review of more than 11,000 websites selling prescription medications to U.S. consumers found approximately 96% appear to be in conflict with U.S. laws[1]; 89% of illegal online pharmacies don’t require a prescription;[2] and 20 new websites selling prescription medicines are launched every day.[3]
  • 65% of online search results for prescription drugs lead U.S. consumers to illegal and unsafe websites.[4]
  • Buying prescription medicines from illegal online pharmacies increases the risk of credit card and identity theft.[5]
  • Nearly one in four adult consumers has purchased prescription medicines online and almost one in five of those indicated that they bought from a website that was not associated with a local pharmacy or health insurance plan.[6]
  • 50% of medicines sold online by pharmacy websites that hide their physical street address are fake.[7]
  • Products sold by illegal online drugs sellers often contain little or no active ingredients, are manufactured in unsafe conditions, and/or contain floor wax, mercury, concrete, chalk, boric acid, road tar, paint, anti-freeze and other deadly poisons.[8]

Facts About Counterfeit Medicines

  • Worth $200 billion a year, the market for counterfeit pharmaceuticals now eclipses almost everything else in the underground economy, including prostitution, human trafficking and illegal arms sales.[9]
  • It is estimated that up to a third of the world’s prescription drugs are counterfeit, although this figure is closer to two-thirds in some developing countries.[10],[11] Of these, more than half are classified as “lifesaving”, such as treatments for cardiovascular disease, central nervous system disorders and anti-infectives.[12]

Facts About Healthcare Providers and Their Knowledge of Online Drug Sellers

  • There are almost 6 million healthcare providers in the U.S. including approximately one million primary care and specialist physicians[13]; 670,000 pharmacists[14] and pharmacy technicians[15]; four million registered nurses[16] and 200,000 nurse practitioners[17]; and 100,000 physician assistants.[18]
  • ASOP Global and the Federation of State Medical Boards worked with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, University of California San Diego and LegitScript to develop “Internet Drug Sellers: What Providers Need To Know”, a free online continuing education course for pharmacists and physicians.
  • Before taking the course, less than 10% of the participating pharmacists and physicians said they were very aware that counterfeit prescription drugs are being sold on the Internet; almost 80% “never or rarely” speak to their patients about the risks of associated with buying prescription medicines online; and 94% of the participants were totally unfamiliar with the current tools and resources available to identify fraudulent online pharmacies.
  • After taking the course, 81% of participants said that they would change their methods of treatment; providers reported a 10-fold increase in the expected frequency in which they planned to discuss the risks of buying prescription medicine online with their patients; and nearly 90% of participants agreed that the course will help to improve their practice.

Facts About Prescription Drugs in the U.S.

  • U.S. spending on prescription drugs is projected to continue climbing faster than overall health care expenditures; cumulatively from 2013 to 2018, prescription drug spending is predicted to rise by an average of 7.3% annually.[19]
  • The number of prescriptions dispensed in 2015 reached 4.5 billion and total spending on medicines in the U.S. reached $310 billion, up 8.5 percent from the previous year.[20]

[1] Internet Drug Outlet Identification Program, National Association of Boards of Pharmacy, 2016

[2] Buying Medicine Online – What Are the Risks, National Association of Boards of Pharmacy

[3] The Internet Pharmacy Market in 2016, LegitScript and the Center for Safe Internet Pharmacies, January 2016

[4] Online Pharmacy Market Spotlight Report: The United States, ASOP Global and LegitScript, July 2016

[5] What You Need to Know Before You Buy Prescription Medications Online, Disease Management, 2015

[6] Buying Prescription Medicines Online, U.S. Food and Drug Administration, 2013

[7] Buying Medicine Online – What Are the Risks, National Association of Boards of Pharmacy

[8] Poisons Found in Counterfeit Medicines, Partnership for Safe Medicines, 2012

[9] Counterfeiting: An Industry Three Times Larger than the Illicit Global Drug Trade, Sophic Capital, 2014

[10] Counterfeiting: An Industry Three Times Larger than the Illicit Global Drug Trade, Sophic Capital, 2014

[11] Counterfeit Medicines and the Role of IP in Patient Safety, IP Watchdog, 2016

[12] Counterfeit Drug Penetration into Global Legitimate Supply Chains, American Journal of Tropic Medicine and Hygiene, April 2015

[13] Kaiser Family Foundation,, April 2016

[14] U.S. Department of Labor, May 2015

[15] U.S. Department of Labor,, May, 2015

[16] Kaiser Family Foundation,, April 2016

[17] American Association of Nurse Practitioners,, June 2016

[18] Kaiser Family Foundation,, June 2016

[19] Observations in Healthcare Spending, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, March 2016

[20] Medicines Use and Spending in the U.S.: A Review of 2015 and Outlook to 2020, IMS 2016