Internet Pharmacies:

Hydrocodone, an Addictive Narcotic Pain Medication, Is Available Without a Prescription Through the Internet

GAO-04-892T: Published: Jun 17, 2004. Publicly Released: Jun 17, 2004.

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Robert J. Cramer


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(202) 512-4800

GAO summarized the results of its investigation of some of the business practices of certain U.S. Internet pharmacies that sold narcotics without a prescription. At the request of the Chairman, Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, Senate Committee on Governmental Affairs, GAO attempted to obtain information about the sources of hydrocodone that it purchased without a prescription from eight U.S. online pharmacies. Hydrocodone is an addictive narcotic pain medication, and illicit use of this drug has increased significantly in recent years.

GAO found that (1) one can purchase hydrocodone from certain Web sites on the Internet without providing a prescription or being examined by a physician; and (2) the Internet pharmacies from which it made its purchases of hydrocodone charge significantly higher prices for the drug than walk-in pharmacies. GAO concluded that those who participate in Internet drug operations that operate in this manner appear to be in the business of knowingly servicing, and profiting from, individuals who may purchase pain medication for illicit purposes.

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