It’s possible to find just about anything on Amazon, and that may include prescription drugs.

It’s illegal to sell prescription drugs without a license, and licensed online retailers can only sell drugs to consumers who have a prescription. While Amazon does not have a pharmacy license, and has stated policies against selling prescription drugs online, third party sellers continue to offer them up to consumers, frequently without asking for a prescription, or meeting legal requirements.

ABC News found prescription antibiotics and an asthma inhaler for sale on Amazon. When the site was flagged by ABC News, Amazon removed the antibiotic Flagyl ER Tabs, and the Ventolin Evoinhaler.

“They take something down and then it pops up a few months later,” said Oliver Catlin, chief executive officer of the Los Angeles-based Banned Substances Control Group, which tracks drugs sold as over-the-counter supplements. “The general feeling is that anything you buy on Amazon, you have an expectation that it has been scrutinized and wholly acceptable, and that is not the case.”

Dr. Ford Vox, a brain injury specialist with the Shepard Center in Atlanta, Georgia, said his wife ordered an acne medication on Amazon, that was actually a prescription-only antibiotic called clindamycin. Vox said he found at least 3 other medications illegally sold on the site without a prescription.

“I have by no means executed a comprehensive search of wares sold by Amazon directly or through it’s third-party sellers, but I found other prescription drugs for sale without a prescription, including the antibiotic norfloxacin and the muscle relaxant methocarbamol,” Vox wrote in an essay, adding that both drugs can have potentially serious side effects if not used properly.

A quick search of eBay found two prescription drugs being sold illegally on their site. Ryan Moore, eBay’s lead manager of business communications said, “We take proactive measures to identify listings that violate our policies, including but not limited to keyword filters and monitoring tools.” He added, “Additionally, every listing has a ‘report this item’ link allowing our community members to alert us to listings for our review and removal.”

Catlin said he believed regulatory agencies also need to do a better job of coming down on Internet prescription sales.     6/17/14



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