Illegal drug market explodes on the internet


Source: O Globo (Rio de Janeiro - RJ) - 22/05/2012

Ministry of Health investigation lists 1,2 sites selling prohibited drugs and counterfeit products

BRASILIA. A work commissioned by the Ministry of Health found that companies that operate a parallel market on the internet for the illegal sale of medicines, appetite suppressants, anabolic steroids, abortions and blue prescription make criminal use of official logos. It was even identified a false profile of the Minister of Health, Alexandre Padilha, on Twitter. These are some of the results of the detailed survey "Digital inspection: threats are collective health on the Internet", which lasted a year, and was commissioned from a private company specialized in this digital area.

The study was handed over to the ministry in March. On the internet, criminals use symbols and logos of services and products from the Ministry of Health and deceive consumers with advertisements that the drugs are registered by the National Health Surveillance Agency (Anvisa).

The existence of 1,2 illegal sites, of the most varied, was counted. Of abortion drugs, especially Cytotec, 359 sites were identified (30% of the total); of appetite suppressants, 382 (32%); anabolic steroids, 258 (22%); herbal medicines, 159 (13%); and sales of blue revenue, 41 sites (3%).

In the case of abortion, the company hired to perform this scan on the internet comes to calculate that the cost of hospitalizations for problems resulting from the use of Cytotec reaches R $ 13,4 million per year. The illegal billing with anabolic steroids, in the period of one year of measurement, was estimated at R $ 153 million. With anorectic, the illegal market would have revenues of R $ 82,4 million.

According to the study, the sites sell illusions, in addition to unregulated products that generate health problems. The work concluded that there are, on social networks, "online drugstores", with criminal practices. “The physical and the virtual are mixed: medical consultations are made online, counterfeit drugs are purchased over the internet and sent to real addresses. The pharmacy that sells controlled products without a prescription is on the network ”, says the work's conclusions. “The internet is an escape valve: it is the communication channel between the individual and the criminal network that allows anonymity. The counterfeit drug industry is fueled by the search for banned drugs, the lack of inspection on the Internet, prices below the regular market, and the population's lack of information ”.

The authors concluded that part of the public health problems in Brazil is, in some way, associated with the internet: illegal abortions, purchase of counterfeit drugs, intoxication by counterfeit drugs and development of diseases due to the ingestion of drugs without medical supervision.

The work monitored the main brands of the Ministry of Health, such as UPA, Popular Pharmacy, Family Health, SUS and Samu. The products are presented like this on the internet: “Cenaless, the secret to your weight loss. Assists in the search for the beautiful body. Perfect butt: appear on the beach with a body that causes envy ”. And says that the product is approved by Anvisa, which is not true.