The rising availability through the Internet of commonly abused prescription drugs has raised public health concerns. We examined whether the growth of US prescription drug abuse may be explained by the parallel growth in high-speed Internet use. We find that for every 10 percent increase in high-speed Internet use at the state level, associated treatment facility admissions for prescription drug abuse rose by 1 percent. Admissions for abuse of alcohol, cocaine, and heroin, which are not readily purchased online, had minimal or negative growth during the same period. The results suggest that better surveillance of online prescription drug sales is warranted, and aggressive efforts to curb illegitimate online pharmacies may be necessary.
This report is part of the RAND Corporation External publication series. Many RAND studies are published in peer-reviewed scholarly journals, as chapters in commercial books, or as documents published by other organizations.
Our mission to help improve policy and decisionmaking through research and analysis is enabled through our core values of quality and objectivity and our unwavering commitment to the highest level of integrity and ethical behavior. To help ensure our research and analysis are rigorous, objective, and nonpartisan, we subject our research publications to a robust and exacting quality-assurance process; avoid both the appearance and reality of financial and other conflicts of interest through staff training, project screening, and a policy of mandatory disclosure; and pursue transparency in our research engagements through our commitment to the open publication of our research findings and recommendations, disclosure of the source of funding of published research, and policies to ensure intellectual independence. For more information, visit www.rand.org/about/research-integrity.
The RAND Corporation is a nonprofit institution that helps improve policy and decisionmaking through research and analysis. RAND's publications do not necessarily reflect the opinions of its research clients and sponsors.