A November 2021 article in The Washington Post reported a grim milestone in the ongoing overdose crisis that has been exacerbated during the nearly two-year COVID-19 pandemic: Between April 2020 and April 2021, the federal government counted over 100,000 deaths from overdoses. That is 275 people each day.
In light of these staggering numbers, U.S. consumers need resources to help them verify that their medicines – especially those purchased online – come from a safe source. Furthermore, they will benefit from vetted information about preventing prescription medicine misuse. This past autumn, CSIP and its members implemented two targeted campaigns aimed at addressing these important needs.
First, in collaboration with the North Carolina Secretary of State, CSIP led a statewide online advertising campaign promoting its resource website VerifyBeforeYouBuy.org. This verification website provides a search tool, powered by our partner LegitScript, that allows consumer to enter their online pharmacy’s URL. This pharmacy’s website is then cross-referenced in the database of thousands of pharmacies worldwide to determine if the pharmacy is a safe, legitimate and verified, or dangerous and fraudulent.
The campaign, which ran in September and October, consisted of ads (sample below) encouraging state residents to use the pharmacy verification tool and other resources on the website. The ads ran on Google and Microsoft search platforms and on Facebook and Twitter, with support from each of these CSIP member organizations. The campaign reached 3.8 million users in North Carolina. It marked the third such collaboration between CSIP and a U.S. state government promoting the Verify Before You Buy website tools to consumers. (See announcements about two of these prior campaigns here and here.)
Second, for two weeks in October, CSIP worked with Google, Facebook, Microsoft and Twitter to promote the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA)’s National Prescription Drug Take Back Day – a biannual date when consumers are encouraged to drop-off unused or expired prescription drugs for free at a safe location where they can then be disposed of properly. Drop-off locations included local drug stores, supermarket pharmacies, and police stations, among other places.
The campaign ads (sample below) promoted the use of an interactive chat tool on Facebook’s Messenger platform. Supported by software developer Quiq, the tool allowed users to input their zip code to find nearby drop-off locations, get answers to common questions related to the Take Back Day effort, and to access other resources related to support and treatment for those who have been affected by prescription drug misuse. During the two-week period leading up to the official Take Back Day on October 23, ads reached 2.8 million people across the United States. This campaign was the third one orchestrated by CSIP in support of the DEA’s Take Back Day. (See previous efforts here and here.) Even though Take Back Day is past, the Facebook Messenger tool remains available for a time to point consumers to safe and free drop-off locations.
The successful reach of these two campaigns point to the importance of making sure that curated resources for U.S. consumers can be made available in as many online venues as possible. CSIP and its members remain committed to working closely with partners across the country and world in doing its part to help promote resources aimed at addressing the current national opioid crisis.
About the Center for Safe Internet Pharmacies (CSIP)
The Center for Safe Internet Pharmacies (CSIP) is a non-profit organization founded in 2011, by a diverse group of Internet service providers and technology companies to address the global problem of consumer access to illegitimate pharmaceuticals from illegal online pharmacies and other sources. CSIP’s mission is to promote to promote and encourage safe online pharmacies and to respond to related national and global needs through education, enforcement, and information sharing.