Online dealers of illicit drugs are the target of new guidelines launched today by the independent body which monitors the implementation of United Nations drug control conventions.
The guidelines were developed because of the rapid growth of internet pharmacies and their global reach, which requires that Governments worldwide cooperate with each other to tackle the problem, the International Narcotics Control Board (INCB) said.
“Internet pharmacies can be accessed by anyone, anywhere who happens to be online. While efforts have been made at the national level, it is concerted, supportive international action that will make the difference,” according to Professor Hamid Ghodse, President of the INCB.
The problem, according to the Board, extends beyond illicitly manufactured natural and synthetic drugs such as heroin or amphetamines, and also includes the sale of controlled pharmaceutical preparations without a prescription.
In 2008, a study in the United States identified 365 sites offering internationally controlled substances for sale and found that only two of them had been certified by the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy as legitimate Internet pharmacy sites.
“The online sale of such pharmaceuticals by unscrupulous racketeers is no different from the trafficking in illicit drugs, as it endangers lives just as much as street sales do,” Dr. Ghodse said.
INCB said the new Guidelines recommend that Governments take a wide range of actions to curb the illicit sale of internationally controlled substances, including administrative, legislative and regulatory provisions.
To develop them, the Board worked with national experts and relevant international organizations including Interpol, the Universal Postal Union, Internet service providers, financial services and pharmaceutical associations, the Board said.
The International Narcotics Control Board was established in 1968 for the implementation of the Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs.