Digital Citizens Alliance - Teens / Pharmaceutical Drugs

Digital Citizens Alliance: It Is Too Easy for Teens to Order Prescription Drugs

Online Internet Safety Group Finds Operators Take Teen's Orders, While Pharmacies Use YouTube to Market Their Drugs

Washington, DC – The Digital Citizens Alliance today released its latest investigation of rogue online pharmacies with video footage of a 15-year-old teen presented with the opportunity to order dangerous prescription drugs from overseas pharmacies. The Digital Citizens Alliance recorded the conversations between a 15-year-old and operators for online pharmacies, finding cases where the teen could initiate orders even when he admitted he was just 15 and using his father’s credit card or admitted that he had no prescription. In either case, the rogue operators showed no hesitation in taking the order.

"Sadly, it’s a video you have to see to believe. We were shocked at how easy it was to try to place an order. Our teen placed orders for prescription painkillers and the operators never flinched. They didn’t care about his well-being, just his money,” said Digital Citizens Alliance Executive Director Tom Galvin.  “When buying a potentially dangerous prescription drug is essentially as easy as purchasing a shirt online, we have a real problem on our hands."

Investigators from the Internet safety group were stunned to see operators not only take the teen's call, but actually guide him through the process – even after he acknowledged he had no prescription. 

Call #1
Operator: Hello, this is the pharmacy. How can I help you?
Teen: Hi, I’d like to order some Percocet please.
Operator: Okay sir, which milligram?
Teen: Uh, 7.5 milligram, is that right?
Operator: Yes, do you have a prescription?
Teen: No I don’t have a prescription.
Operator: No problem. We can get that, because if you do not have a prescription we provide the medication, no problem.

Call #2
Operator: What kind of payment are you going to use?
Teen: Umm, I’m 15 so I’m using my dad’s credit card.
Operator: So you are going to use your credit card so what type of credit card is that?
Teen: That is a Visa.
Operator: Visa okay.

To see the actual videos of the calls made by the teen working with Digital Citizens, visit:

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"This should make every parent take notice. By simply calling and sharing some personal information and offering a credit card, a teen makes his or herself and their family vulnerable," Galvin said.  "We know of cases where the true scam begins after the drugs have been sent out.  In some instances, people who bought drugs get contacted by people impersonating law enforcement officers demanding hush money.”

In a second investigation, Digital Citizens Alliance had an adult order the drugs.  Like the teen, the adult did not have an in-person meeting with the doctor.  Nonetheless, the organization received three painkillers, all of which should only be available after seeing a doctor and getting a valid prescription.

Digital Citizens had the three drugs tested at Microtrace LLC, a lab just outside of Chicago. Two were the actual painkillers, but one was not the drug Digital Citizens had ordered.

“It’s troubling enough to be able to get potentially dangerous drugs so easily,” added Galvin. “But when they send a different drug, it creates a whole new level of risk of complications with other drugs.”

In a search of YouTube, the third most popular site in the world and a favorite amongst teens, Digital Citizens found thousands of videos when searching “buy drugs without a prescription.” Several of the videos were essentially advertisements for powerful drugs like Percocet, Oxycontin, and Tramadol.

To read Digital Citizens’ research regarding YouTube, visit:

(NOTE: All purchases were made to gather research in furtherance of Digital Citizens exempt purpose of educating the public and making the Internet safer and more crime free. The drugs acquired by Digital Citizens were purchased by an adult and were promptly turned over to a private lab for testing. Digital Citizens Alliance did NOT complete the teen's order. Neither the teen nor Digital Citizens Alliance paid for, or came into possession of, any prescription medication as a result of the teen's orders. Also, one of the teen’s parents was on site when he made the phone calls. Digital Citizens can provide a letter of consent from the parent for stations interested in airing those soundbites.)

About the Digital Citizens Alliance

The Digital Citizens Alliance is a consumer-oriented coalition focused on educating the public and policy makers on the threats that consumers face on the Internet and the importance for Internetstakeholders – individuals, government and industry - to make the Web a safer place. Based in Washington, DC, the Digital Citizens Alliance counts among its supporters: private citizens, the health, pharmaceutical and creative industries as well as online safety experts and other communities focused on Internet safety. For more information, please visit