Online Program

Mapping of Health Promotion and Education Programs Addressing Public Health Dangers of Illicit Online Pharmacies

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Allison Anderson, MAS, Alliance for Safe Online Pharmacies, Washington DC, DC
Timothy Mackey, MAS, PhD, Dept of Anesthesiology, UC San Diego - School of Medicine, La Jolla, CA
Bryan Liang, MD, JD, PhD, School of Medicine (UCSD),, Global He, San Diego, CA
Background:  Illicit online pharmacies are a growing global public health concern. Stakeholders have started to engage in health promotion to educate the public, yet their scope and effectiveness has not been examined. We wished to identify and characterize current online health promotion activities focused upon consumer awareness of illicit online pharmacies. We examined global public health, drug regulatory agencies, law enforcement, and civil society stakeholders.

Methods: This is a descriptive analysis. Organizations actively participating in raising awareness to the potential dangers of illicit online pharmacies were first identified using a set of engagement criteria. We then conducted a content analysis of these organizations’ websites for health promotion programs, educational components, public service announcements, and social media utilization. Specifically, we reviewed the volume and popularity of Facebook and Twitter of these organizations.

Results: Thirteen organizations across the spectrum of stakeholders were identified as actively engaged in the public health issue of illicit online pharmacies. Of these organizations, 69.2% (n=9) had at least one type of health promotion outreach activity targeting consumers. While the vast majority of these organizations were active on Facebook or Twitter, few had dedicated content regarding online pharmacies (Facebook: 45.5%; Twitter: 58.3%). Overall, none of the organizations identified showed a high level of effectiveness in educating the public on this issue.

Conclusions: There appears to be inadequate health promotion and education regarding the potential public health and patient safety dangers associated with illicit online pharmacies. More robust collaborative efforts are needed to protect the consumer.

Learning Areas:

Implementation of health education strategies, interventions and programs
Public health or related education

Learning Objectives:
Identify stakeholders engaged in health communication and education regarding the public health threat of illicit online pharmacies Assess the different types of health communication and promotion strategies utilized by these stakeholders and evaluate their effectiveness Formulate strategies including coalition building and cooperation in social media health education promotion to better inform consumers and the public of the dangers of illicit online pharmacies

Keyword(s): Social Media, Health Promotion and Education

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I hold a masters degree in health policy and law from a joint program between UC San Diego School of Medicine and California Western School of Law. I am a Research Advisor for the Alliance for Safe Online Pharmacies, a 501(c)(4) social welfare organization dedicated to improving patient safety on the Internet globally. I am also employed by Arena Pharmaceuticals in HR, though the company had no influence or participation in this research.
Any relevant financial relationships? Yes

Name of Organization Clinical/Research Area Type of relationship
Arena Pharmaceuticals Anti-obesity/tobacco cessation Employment (includes retainer) and Stock Ownership

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.