Islamic Republic of Iran

Narcotics Control Board warns of illegal online pharmacies selling drugs to youth

28 February 2012 - The International Narcotics Control Board (INCB) today launched its annual report for 2011, which warns of illegal Internet pharmacies targeting young audiences via social media and highlights regional drug trends.

The President of INCB, Hamid Ghodse, noted that "illegal Internet pharmacies have started to use social media to get customers for their websites, which can put large, and especially young, audiences at risk of dangerous products, given that the World Health Organization has found that over half of the medicines from illegal Internet pharmacies are counterfeit."

Key activities of illegal Internet pharmacies include the smuggling of products to consumers, finding hosting space for their websites and convincing consumers that they are, in fact, legitimate. INCB is calling on Governments to close down illegal Internet pharmacies and to seize substances which have been illicitly ordered on the Internet and smuggled through the mail.

Helping marginalized communities that are experiencing drug problems must be a priority, according to the INCB Report. Fractured communities, with little sense of social cohesion, are more likely to experience multiple problems, including drug abuse, and those problems can contribute to the social disorder and violence that have been seen in cities around the world and which can have an impact on society at large. Ghodse warns: "It is crucial that the needs of communities experiencing social disintegration are urgently tackled before the tipping point is reached, beyond which effective action becomes impossible."

In the regional highlights, the report notes that Central America and the Caribbean continue to be used as transit areas for drug trafficking from South America to North America. Approximately 90 per cent of the cocaine in the United States is trafficked via Mexico. North America remained the world's largest illicit drug market in 2010, all three countries in the region continuing to have high levels of illicit drug production, manufacture, trade and consumption.

The report shows that the illicit cultivation of cannabis plants in Western and Central Europe has increased dramatically, while West Africa continues to be used for the trafficking of cocaine, drug traffickers increasingly using shipping containers and commercial aircraft to smuggle cocaine into Europe.

The International Narcotics Control Board (INCB) is an independent body responsible for monitoring implementation of the international drug control conventions. It was established in 1968 in accordance with the Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs of 1961. The annual reports of INCB, based on the Board's activities, provide a comprehensive review of the drug control situation in various parts of the world. As an impartial body, INCB tries to identify and predict dangerous trends and recommends measures to be taken in response to those trends.

Related information:

INCB annual report for 2011