Mesomorphosis.com, a steroid law reform website, emailed us with some questions about our request to GoDaddy and other US-based registrars to terminate some steroids websites. (See Mesomorphosis’ blog on the same topic.) Most, but not all, of the websites were terminated.
Mesomorphosis asked some great questions, and we’re happy to answer them below. (NOTE: We abbreviated a couple of the questions for the sake of brevity.) Feel free to download the original steroids report as background.
1. LegitScript has asserted that it is irrelevant that some steroid pharmacies are operating legally within their respective countries. Is it fair to identify a steroid pharmacy website as illegal or “rogue” in the absence of proof that they are violating any laws? After all, products on a website are marketed to a worldwide audience (including residents of the United States) due to the very nature of the Internet.
Yes, it’s fair. These websites all allow the sale of these products to the US from outside of the US, which violates numerous US laws and is unsafe. In many cases, the “default” setting for a country selection is the United States (or, the United States is the top selection) and the FAQs talk about what to do if US Customs intercepts the package. It’s naive to pretend that the US isn’t the intended audience in these cases.
We have rarely, but occasionally, found prescription drug websites that do not allow the product to be ordered if the shipping address is in the United States. We leave those websites off of our lists. All that a steroids website has to do is remove the ability for a recipient in the US to order steroids without a prescription, and we’ll leave the site alone.
2. LegitScript has asserted that U.S. law should have precedence in determining the legality of a steroid pharmacy (at least when it comes to U.S.-based registrars). Does LegitScript feel that other countries should conform to the legal standards set forth by the United States with regard to steroid and prescription laws?
Our position is not that US law should have precedence above other countries’ laws in determining the legality of a steroid website. Rather, a website that ships prescription drugs from one country into another needs to comply with both countries’ laws. In other words, if a steroid website is shipping steroids to the US, those shipments must adhere to US law.
3. Some of the websites LegitScript submitted for termination do not appear to sell anabolic-androgenic steroids (AAS), but rather discuss the non-medical use of AAS, provide information generally, are affiliates of websites selling prescription drugs, or advocate their decriminalization or legalization (e.g., isteroids.com). Does LegitScript request termination of those websites?
No. We don’t have any problem with websites advocating a change in the law, or that are really doing nothing but providing information about anabolic steroids. However, that’s not what isteroids.com was (or, now that it’s re-registered elsewhere, is) doing. The website consistently displays an ad for, and link to, steroids-pharmacy.com, which provides anabolic steroids without requiring a prescription. The fact that the purchase is actually made from steroids-pharmacy.com, not isteroids.com, is irrelevant: iSteroids.com is functionally a storefront or entry point for steroids-pharmacy.com.
In the online prescription drug/steroids world, it’s a common scheme to set up a website that initially seems to be informational, but in some prominent way, obviously and overtly encourages its users to visit another site or sites for the illicit purchase of prescription drugs or steroids. In these cases, it’s not accurate to describe the website as simply informational. Rather, it’s an important part of the illicit network. Besides, each time that an Internet user on that informational page clicks through an advertisement to a steroids selling website, the informational page typically gets a fee or cut of the sale, and is directly or indirectly sharing in the drug proceeds.
4. Where can consumers access a revised list of “rogue” websites?
We actively maintain that list, but do not publish it. One reason is that we don’t want potential purchasers to use that list as a resource for finding sites where they can purchase drugs without a valid prescription. However, the “Is It Legit” box on our home page is a closed-universe search engine that lets users search for a website to see if it is approved or unapproved.