28 Aug Third Party Vendors Are Dealing Drugs to Amazon Customers
They may not even be aware of it, but some Amazon customers have been participating in the illegal drug trade. Drugs that can only be purchased in this country with a legitimate doctor’s prescription are listed online at Amazon from sellers outside of the U.S. Buyers may or may not realize they are making an illicit purchase, but federal officials are very much aware.
According to one medical doctor who perused the site and spoke with Amazon representatives, some of the drugs sold through Amazon are not innocuous medications but substances that require careful physician supervision and monitoring. Some can create health risks for the user, others could contribute to significant public health risks.
Third party sellers have been able to take advantage of the Amazon platform to market their wares to knowing and unknowing customers. The sheer volume of merchandise that passes through an Amazon distribution center means that it is virtually impossible for employees to check all packages entering from outside the country. Yet most buyers would assume that their purchase had passed some type of inspection. Furthermore, some of the illicit substances are not even coming from outside of the U.S. but from stores of merchandise housed in Amazon depots.
An International Problem
The U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and Interpol have been working together to put a stop to the practice. In May, nearly 2,000 websites where illegal drugs are sold were identified and their servers were formally warned. In addition, U.S. agents seized hundreds of drug-laden packages as part of the operation. Still, officials admit that this is the equivalent of a drop in the bucket compared to the numbers of illegal drugs brought into the country via Internet sales and postal delivery.
Cooperation and Non-Cooperation
Amazon is not the only platform being co-opted by illegal drug marketers, but it is singular in its refusal to join hands with U.S. law enforcement. Giants such as MasterCard, Visa, UPS and Google have made their databases available to both the Drug Enforcement Administration and the FDA to help the agencies go after illegal traffickers. So far Amazon has not joined the club.
It’s been suggested that the U.S. agencies at least publicly warn or shame Amazon for its complicity in these practices. Again, to date, this has failed to happen. What can be said with certainty is that Americans are able to buy drugs like steroids, antibiotics and muscle relaxers through Amazon without a prescription and in direct contravention of the law. Perhaps public outcry may succeed where government pressure has failed in putting a halt to the practice.
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