Profiling online recreational/prescription drugs' customers and overview of drug vending virtual marketplaces
OBJECTIVES: Internet and social networking sites play a significant role in the marketing and distribution of recreational/prescription drugs without restrictions. We aimed here at reviewing data relating to the profile of the online drug customer and at describing drug vending websites. METHODS: The PubMed, Google Scholar, and Scopus databases were searched here in order to elicit data on the socio-demographic characteristics of the recreational marketplaces/online pharmacies' customers and the determinants relating to online drug purchasing activities. RESULTS: Typical online recreational drugs' customers seem to be Caucasian, men, in their 20s, highly educated, and using the web to impact as minimally as possible on their existing work/professional status. Conversely, people without any health insurance seemed to look at the web as a source of more affordable prescription medicines. Drug vending websites are typically presented here with a "no prescription required" approach, together with aggressive marketing strategies. CONCLUSIONS: The online availability of recreational/prescriptions drugs remains a public health concern. A more precise understanding of online vending sites' customers may well facilitate the drafting and implementation of proper prevention campaigns aimed at counteracting the increasing levels of online drug acquisition and hence intake activities.