Facebook is home to marketplaces for just about every product and service imaginable — including, according to a recent report from NBC News, an underground black market for pharmaceutical drugs.
These prescription drug markets are full of financially-needy patients who must rely on each other to trade for vital and potentially life-saving medicine. The drugs are often bartered in private groups, which can require moderator approval to join. Then, when a patient needs medication, he or she can post a request for it and another member of the group can send spare medication (only charging for the cost of shipping and handling) or trade if the other patient has a drug they need.
There are obvious risks to this practice — people could get scammed, receive tampered-with medicine or give up private information to the wrong person. However, these are risks that many desperate patients are willing to take.
“If it weren’t for the online diabetes community I would be dead,” said one woman who used Facebook to receive insulin.
Interestingly, this trade of medication is not illegal according to the Controlled Substances Act. However, it is strongly discouraged by government regulators and doctors alike due to multiple safety concerns.
It is certainly dangerous for people to use Facebook this way, freely trading private information and accepting medication from strangers. Still, it’s hard to fault them for doing whatever they need to get the medicine they require.