The State of Opioid Sales on the Dark Web

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A report prepared by LegitScript.com for the Center for Safe Internet Pharmacies

In 2016, LegitScript prepared a report for CSIP on the state of the internet pharmacy market, including market trends, challenges, and opportunities. That report found that about 96 percent of websites marketing pharmaceuticals on the open internet — somewhere between 30,000 and 35,000 — failed to adhere to applicable legal requirements. Of those, the vast majority (all but about five percent) were blatantly illegal and unsafe, selling prescription drugs without requiring a prescription.

However, our report also found that the voluntary efforts of internet and payment platforms such as Google, PayPal, and Bing, among other companies, to curb the online promotion of illicit products have disrupted these illicit businesses’ operations, specifically by removing the options of paid advertising and the most common payment methods.

These successes may have pushed illicit drug dealers to the “dark web.” This portion of the internet, which requires specialized software or configurations to access, is built for anonymity and privacy, and as such is the perfect haven for sellers of illicit products.

In response to that increasingly important question, this report provides an overview of the dark web, describes how it is used for illicit drug sales, and identifies key vulnerabilities.

View the report.