Study: Most Canadian Drug Sites Not What They Seem

June 17, 2005 ( - A scant 214 of the 11,000 Web sites designed to appear as though they were Canadian pharmacy sites actually sold prescription drugs and were, in fact, Canadian, a new study found.

A news release by Cyveillance, an Arlington, Virginia online risk management firm hired by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), said the 214 sites had registration data indicating a Canadian owner or that they were hosted by a Canadian Internet service provider.

Cyveillance said in the announcement that over half of the sites actually registered in the United States and dispensing drugs were registered to a single firm.

The study found that of the two-thirds of the sites posing as Canadian pharmacies, 686 sites listed an owner/registrant address in the United States while another 87 sites gave Barbados contact information. Other seemingly Canadian sites gave owner contact information from countries such as Mexico, Czech Republic, El Salvador, Australia, Germany, and Vietnam. Cyveillance researchers were unable to determine, or said the contact information was “hidden,” for 16 of the sites, according to the study.

Similar patterns appeared in the information about the sites’ Internet service provider (ISP) hosting information, Cyveillance reported. In fact, 856 of the 1,009 sites indicated they were hosted by a US-based ISP. Only 148 sites showed Canadian ISP information, with the remaining five in the Bahamas.

The issue of Americans purchasing prescription drugs from Canadian pharmacies has been extremely controversial in recent years with a number of state and local government officials shifting to Canadian pharmacy purchase programs because of the cost savings (See RI First to License Canadian Pharmacies ). However US officials have maintained that there are remaining health and safety issues with the Canadian-purchased drugs.