Attention Senator Vitter:
The August 12, issue of the Lancet details the case of a patient who severely damaged her vision by taking a drug she bought on the Internet for four years.
In February 2006, a 64-year-old woman presented to the doctors with a 6-month history of decreased vision. The woman had no past or family history of eye disease. When the doctors examined her eye they found features consistent with a diagnosis of glaucoma and cataract caused by steroid use.
On subsequent questioning, the women disclosed that she had been purchasing the oral steroid prednisolone from an online pharmaceutical company in Thailand. She had taken the drug for 4 years after she had made a self-diagnosis of chronic fatigue syndrome. When the doctors last saw her in July 2006, she was due for a cataract operation.
Prompted by the case, the authors (Philip Severn and Scott Fraser from the Sunderland Eye Infirmary, UK) found that they were able to find 1000 tablets of prednisolone (5mg) online for Â£25.23 using the search engine Google. The authors warn that some drug therapies sold on the Internet may be counterfeit.
They conclude: “The expansion of the Internet is relentless and, from the perspective of patients seeking information, in the main positive. However, the online availability of controlled and uncontrolled drug therapies needs to be carefully monitored.”