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Abstract

Objective:

Antiobesity drugs have been marketed illicitly by “no prescription” online pharmacies after approval and scheduling by the drug enforcement agency. We assess whether antiobesity drug Belviq® (lorcaserin HCl) was available from illicit online vendors before DEA-scheduling when sales are unauthorized.

Design and Methods:

Online searches of “buy Belviq no prescription” examining first five result pages marketing the drug. Searches were performed from 11/5/2012-12/8/2012, prior to DEA scheduing.

Results:

Belviq® is actively marketed by “no prescription” online vendors despite official unavailability and prescription requirements. Approaches included direct-to-consumer advertising using descriptive website URLs; linking to illicit marketers; and directing customers to other weight-loss websites for additional marketing. Finally, large quantities were marketed by business-to-business vendors.

Conclusion:

Illicit online “no prescription” pharmacies are marketing unauthorized, suspect antiobesity drugs before DEA scheduling and permitted marketing. Regulators must legally intercede to ensure patient safety, and providers must educate patients about online-sourcing risks.