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ASOP Survey Reveals More Americans Buy Meds Online Despite Safety Risks

A recent survey commissioned by the Alliance for Safe Online Pharmacies (ASOP) Global Foundation highlights a significant increase in Americans buying prescription medications online. The trend, driven by factors such as cost, convenience, and access, has seen a surge, accelerated by the ongoing pandemic and aggravated by drug shortages.

The findings underscore a growing concern as consumers often hold misguided assumptions about the safety, oversight, and compliance of online drug sellers, posing serious health risks.

Key Survey Findings (2023):

1. Increasing Online Medication Purchases:

•          52% of American consumers have bought medications from online pharmacies for themselves or someone in their care, marking a 10% increase from 2021.

•          71% of respondents began using online pharmacies in the last 1-3 years, with 85% of current users filling one or more medications online.

2. Dangerous Assumptions about Safety:

•          44% of Americans falsely believe that online pharmacies do not require a prescription from a healthcare provider for certain medications.

•          54% incorrectly assume that all websites offering healthcare services/medications to Americans online have FDA or state approval.

•          47% believe that only safe, verified websites selling prescription medications appear on the first page of search engine results.

3. Drivers of Online Purchases:

•          60% of Americans using online pharmacies would consider buying prescription medicines from an unapproved online source for convenience.

•          55% would do so for cost-savings, and 47% would consider it for access to medicines not otherwise available.

4. Regulatory and Legislative Needs:

•          Libby Baney, Senior Advisor to ASOP Global, emphasizes the need for comprehensive legislative and regulatory policies to address the risks associated with online medication purchases.

•          Increased education efforts, such as ASOP Global Foundation’s Bad Meds campaign, are deemed essential for consumer safety.

Survey Methodology:

•          ASOP Global Foundation commissioned Abacus Data to survey 1,500 Americans between September 7 and 10, 2023.

•          The survey aimed to understand the prevalence and patterns of online pharmacy usage, consumer awareness of risks, and related trends.

•          The data was weighted according to census data, with a margin of error of +/- 2.53%.

The data highlights the urgent need for comprehensive legislative and regulatory policies to address the risks associated with online medication purchases. The call for increased education efforts, such as ASOP Global Foundation’s Bad Meds Campaign, becomes paramount to ensure that consumers make informed decisions about their health.

As online medication purchases continue to rise, fueled by ongoing challenges like drug shortages and changes in access, it is imperative to prioritize patient safety. The healthcare community, policymakers, and regulatory bodies must collaborate to implement effective measures that safeguard consumers from the potential dangers associated with online pharmaceutical transactions. By fostering awareness, enhancing regulatory oversight, and promoting responsible online practices, stakeholders can work together to mitigate the risks and protect the well-being of individuals seeking medication through online channels.


Joan David-Leonhard

Joan David Leonhard is a recent Pharm.D graduate with a strong passion for the pharmaceutical industry and a particular interest in pharmaceutical media and communication. Her brief internship experience includes roles in pharmacy where she built strong patient-pharmacist relationships and a pharmaceutical media internship where she actively contributed to drug information articles, blog posts, social media engagement, and various media projects.
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