The internet ever since its introduction has been constantly changing the way we as a society function. It has not only successfully brought communities together. It has also allowed them to share ideas and provide a platform for growth in business. However, with this positive angle there is another side of the story. The internet has introduced new avenues of both social and ethical issues that need to be understood and addressed.
In resent years, there has been a rise in the internet pharmacies business. Everyday new websites are appearing on search engines selling a whole rage of drugs. Many of these are drugs that have been manufactured by unauthorized companies, having poor or incorrect labeling, are substandard and in many cases lethal if taken. The mushrooming of sites selling online drugs, are flamed by the accessibility to online affiliate marketing sites. These affiliate sites provide links to anyone and everyone having an audience to sell to. A report by a web analysis company called Envision proposed that there are nearly 2,300 sites, selling prescription-only drugs direct to consumer.
With more and more people turning to the internet to find either cheaper drugs, drugs without prescription, the promised wonder drugs - which can so called solve all their problems, and websites that provide online consultation with cyber doctors is in fact a matter of increasing global concern.
Studies done by the United Nations show that the easy access to extremely powerful sleeping tablets, painkillers and antidepressants are leading to an increasing number of people suffering form heart attacks, blindness and in some extreme cases, death.
It is felt, that the rise of internet pharmacies, are also largely to blame for the epidemic of "prescription addictions," that are now rapidly becoming a global problem. It is believed that, prescription addiction abuse has already surpassed that of heroin and cocaine in some parts of the world. These findings have led to the call from doctor's world over, to ban online consolations. Patients are often given prescriptions without being spoken too or even seeing to by a General Practitioner. And this is looked at by many as un-ethical method of treatment.
In Britain the National Audit Office has anticipated that at least 600,000 people have at some point used the internet to buy prescription medicines.
Some of the Popular drugs found online include:
· Viagra - The anti-impotence pill
· Lorazepam- Which is used to treat anxiety but has the side effects that can cause dizziness, memory loss, and even hallucinations.
· Valium - A antidepressant which is known to be highly addictive
· Lipitor - The cholesterol-lowering drug. This can cause several health problems if not used correctly.
Having an 8 billion dollar market, online drugs in the category of Lifestyle drugs are targeted at consumer's world wide. These are the slimming agents, hair loss and erectile dysfunction products.
However, even these life style drugs can be quite fatal, as in the case of 21-year-old Ana Carolina Reston. An anorexic Brazilian model, who lived on a diet of only apples and tomatoes. After her death it was suspected that she had also been taken a cocktail of prescription drugs for slimming and pain relief. It is believed that anorexia and the cocktails of prescription drugs was finally the caused for her body to shut down.
The report by the United Nations calls for the stricter enforcement of control measures and public education campaigns.