Survey Shows Increasing Use of Online Pharmacies Among Americans

October 6, 2021

42% of Americans now purchase prescription medications online

The Alliance for Safe Online Pharmacies (ASOP) recently released survey findings from earlier in 2021. According to their survey U.S. residents' use of online pharmacies to purchase prescription medications continues to increase yearly, and that 42% of Americans have purchased medications from online pharmacies, either for themselves or family members under their care in 2021. This is an increase of 7% since just last year. While the survey indicates that 49% of these individuals did so for the first time this year, in part due to restrictions of COVID-19, 64% of those intend to continue to purchase medications online when the pandemic ends, due to convenience/accessibility and cost.

The ASOP survey also found that there has been a 9% increase in knowledge about risks in ordering online since 2020, with 38% now claiming to be informed.What a stark contrast to the encouraging finding in the survey that 49% of Americans consult doctors/physicians, 30% have consulted pharmacists, and 12% have consulted nurses as part of their search for online pharmacies. However, this doesn't erase the fact that unscrupulous operators exist online, and that additional measures need to be taken to protect consumers when they search for their medications on the Internet.

Like ASOP, CIPA believes that much still needs to be done to differentiate between safe online pharmacy websites that sell authenticate medications from licensed pharmacies that are locally regulated by health authorities - versus the unregulated, "rogue" online sources.

Over the last five years, CIPA has spearheaded the adoption of a set of globally-accepted standards and norms for the transnational sale of medicines via the internet, which recognize the realities of how people purchase online. Our annual participation at Rightscon and the Internet Governance Forum conferences has been to share and broaden understanding of the growing popularity of - and need for - ordering prescription maintenance medications from online pharmacies. We have collaborated with academics, activists, Internet policy experts, NGOs and human rights advocates in the creation of the BRUSSELS PRINCIPLES ON THE SALE OF MEDICINES OVER THE INTERNET, which sets out a framework for the creation of transnational protocols. We also continue to work within the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) and the Internet and Jurisdiction Policy Network (I&JPN) to bring about greater understanding of the benefits, as well as the mischief, that exists in the online pharmacy space.

ASOP's data in the 2021 Survey American Perceptions and Use of Online Pharmacies demonstrates the urgency to develop the above-noted standards and norms for transnational availability of safe medicines. ASOP's reporting on the U.S. experience of ordering prescription medications online is a valuable measure of the reality of how today's consumers have adopted the internet for all aspects of purchasing, what they correctly identified in last year's survey to be the the "digitization on consumerism". Now is the time for all stakeholders to find common ground and develop fully-informed, generally acceptable procedures for what the survey clearly recognizes cannot - and should not -- be reversed.

 


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