Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Study finds outbreak of Cipro web sites followed anthrax outbreak

13.09.2002


Web sites selling the prescription-only medication ciprofloxacin (also known by its brand name Cipro®) sprang up quickly following an anthrax outbreak in October 2001, according to a new study by researchers from the Case Western Reserve University (CWRU) School of Medicine. The study, published today in the American Journal of Medicine, also found that these Web sites provided poor quality information, had inadequate consumer safeguards, and charged high prices.



On Oct. 4, 2001, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported the first case of an anthrax outbreak by mail. Immediately following the anthrax outbreak, numerous Web sites began selling ciprofloxacin, then the only U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-approved drug to treat anthrax exposure. The outbreak provided the research team with a unique opportunity to illustrate the general difficulties regulators have had with these so-called "Internet pharmacies" that sell prescription drugs directly to the general public.

The researchers compiled information on 59 Web sites selling ciprofloxacin without a prescription between Oct. 28 and Oct. 31, 2001. Twenty-three sites (39 percent) had been created during the two weeks following the Oct. 4, 2001 announcement of the anthrax outbreak. Within a month, 29 sites (49 percent) had discontinued ciprofloxacin sales.


"The host of Web sites we identified sprouted up within two weeks of the anthrax outbreak – one outbreak immediately following the other," said Alexander Tsai, a fourth-year CWRU medical student in the Dual Degree Program in Medicine and Health Services Research. "These online sales of prescription-only medications clearly do not involve any meaningful medical assessment, which is necessary when prescribing a potentially dangerous antibiotic like ciprofloxacin."

Most state medical practice acts stipulate that a physician must examine a patient before prescribing a medication. However, none of the Web sites in the CWRU study required the customer to mail or fax in a physician’s prescription. Forty-nine sites (81 percent) simply asked the customer to fill out an online questionnaire with minimal questions about the customer’s medical history and symptoms. The other eleven sites (19 percent) did not even require customers to fill out a medical questionnaire for purchase.

Tsai conducted this study with the help of Dr. Peter Lurie, deputy director of the Washington D.C.-based Public Citizen’s Health Research Group, and Dr. Ashwini Seghal, a nephrologist at MetroHealth Medical Center and an associate professor of medicine at CWRU. The researchers also had concerns about the quality of these Web sites. Seventeen of the 59 sites (29 percent) displayed no information about potential adverse effects, and 16 sites (27 percent) did not mention the danger of life-threatening allergic reactions if patients with a history of hypersensitivity to quinolone antibiotics (such as ciprofloxacin) use the drug. On eight sites (14 percent), the researchers documented false or misleading claims.

During the study period, state authorities brought enforcement actions against three of the Web sites in the CWRU study. Also in response to the Internet explosion of Web sites selling ciprofloxacin, the FDA ordered all private ciprofloxacin shipments arriving from overseas to be stopped at the border. Eleven of the 59 sites (19 percent) were based in foreign countries, while the rest were registered to U.S. addresses.

"The sale of prescription drugs on the Internet is both a federal and state issue, but neither has the resources or adequate legal authority to act quickly enough," said Lurie. "The problem is that feds have largely deferred to the states – but the states have not filled the regulatory vacuum."

Tsai said he was inspired to undertake the research project after studying the work of other researcher-activists. Sehgal teaches an "Activism and Medicine" elective class for CWRU medical students. More information about this class can be found at http://home.cwru.edu/activism

George Stamatis | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.cwru.edu/
http://home.cwru.edu/activism

More articles from Studies and Analyses:

nachricht New study from the University of Halle: How climate change alters plant growth
12.01.2018 | Martin-Luther-Universität Halle-Wittenberg

nachricht Disarray in the brain
18.12.2017 | Universität zu Lübeck

All articles from Studies and Analyses >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Artificial agent designs quantum experiments

On the way to an intelligent laboratory, physicists from Innsbruck and Vienna present an artificial agent that autonomously designs quantum experiments. In initial experiments, the system has independently (re)discovered experimental techniques that are nowadays standard in modern quantum optical laboratories. This shows how machines could play a more creative role in research in the future.

We carry smartphones in our pockets, the streets are dotted with semi-autonomous cars, but in the research laboratory experiments are still being designed by...

Im Focus: Scientists decipher key principle behind reaction of metalloenzymes

So-called pre-distorted states accelerate photochemical reactions too

What enables electrons to be transferred swiftly, for example during photosynthesis? An interdisciplinary team of researchers has worked out the details of how...

Im Focus: The first precise measurement of a single molecule's effective charge

For the first time, scientists have precisely measured the effective electrical charge of a single molecule in solution. This fundamental insight of an SNSF Professor could also pave the way for future medical diagnostics.

Electrical charge is one of the key properties that allows molecules to interact. Life itself depends on this phenomenon: many biological processes involve...

Im Focus: Paradigm shift in Paris: Encouraging an holistic view of laser machining

At the JEC World Composite Show in Paris in March 2018, the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT will be focusing on the latest trends and innovations in laser machining of composites. Among other things, researchers at the booth shared with the Aachen Center for Integrative Lightweight Production (AZL) will demonstrate how lasers can be used for joining, structuring, cutting and drilling composite materials.

No other industry has attracted as much public attention to composite materials as the automotive industry, which along with the aerospace industry is a driver...

Im Focus: Room-temperature multiferroic thin films and their properties

Scientists at Tokyo Institute of Technology (Tokyo Tech) and Tohoku University have developed high-quality GFO epitaxial films and systematically investigated their ferroelectric and ferromagnetic properties. They also demonstrated the room-temperature magnetocapacitance effects of these GFO thin films.

Multiferroic materials show magnetically driven ferroelectricity. They are attracting increasing attention because of their fascinating properties such as...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

10th International Symposium: “Advanced Battery Power – Kraftwerk Batterie” Münster, 10-11 April 2018

08.01.2018 | Event News

See, understand and experience the work of the future

11.12.2017 | Event News

Innovative strategies to tackle parasitic worms

08.12.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Let the good tubes roll

19.01.2018 | Materials Sciences

How cancer metastasis happens: Researchers reveal a key mechanism

19.01.2018 | Health and Medicine

Meteoritic stardust unlocks timing of supernova dust formation

19.01.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>