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Columbia Univ: Controlled Drugs Easily Obtained Online Without Prescription

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Powerful addictive drugs -- known as controlled substances because of their potential for abuse -- are easily ordered online, and in most cases without a prescription, a new Columbia University study finds.

Of 365 Web sites that sold controlled substances regulated by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), 85 percent of the sites did not require a prescription, according to an Associated Press analysis of the study.

Examples of drugs that could be purchased this way included the potent painkillers morphine and oxycodone, and amphetamine stimulants.

The study found that the number of sites that sold controlled substances actually fell 37 percent from last year's analysis. The researchers cited efforts by law enforcement to crack down on illegal online drug sales.

About 80 percent of online prescriptions are for controlled substances, according to DEA statistics cited by the wire service. By contrast, these same drugs account for just 11 percent of sales at traditional pharmacies, the DEA said.

The House of Representatives is considering a bill to ban the sale of controlled substances online without a prescription. The Senate has already passed the measure.

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