Dr. Sydney Spiesel was online on Nov. 1 to chat with readers about this article. Read the transcript.
Findings: Most of the Web sites attached to the spam had vanished within the three weeks since the messages were sent. The authors were left with 19 Web sites with 27 offers of prescription drugs or natural health products. They found no evidence that the sites abused the credit card information they sent. But the majority of orders were unsuccessful. Sometimes the site stopped working, and sometimes it did not process the order. Arrival stats for prescription medications:
- Erectile dysfunction treatments: one out of five arrived.
- Controlled drugs with addiction potential: three out of five.
- A sleeping product and an antibiotic: none.
- Expensive drugs for arthritis, obesity, heartburn, muscle spasm, baldness, and depression: one out of seven.
Of the natural products, roughly half were delivered. These preparations were largely intended for obesity treatment, erectile dysfunction, and penis enlargement.
Conclusion:The researchers haven't figured out yet whether the products they received were genuine or fake. Please forgive my skepticism, but based on the ingredient list, I am doubtful. In any case, based on this experiment, Internet medication ordering can hardly be recommended, since the majority of products never come.
Question: If you were to do one single thing to improve the health of the world's poorest people, what would it be? The editors of the journal PLoS Medicine posed this question to 26 experts on international health and to four Peruvians in a poor agricultural community.
Answers: Various experts proposed:
- The development of a vaccine to prevent AIDS.
- Exclusive breast-feeding for the first six months of life.
- For tropical Africa, the distribution of free anti-malarial products like insecticide, treated bed nets, and free access to a new class of potent anti-malarial medications.
- Building infrastructure, like a network of rural roads, so clinics and vaccines could be brought easily to the people who need them.
There was also a strong consensus about the great value of safe water and good sanitation. Some consultants also stressed the importance of basic education, especially for women. And a number of experts pointed out the enormous importance of ensuring food security, meaning "two square meals a day."
The wisdom of that recommendation is reinforced by a recent study of the association between food insufficiency and high-risk sexual behavior in two African countries, Botswana and Swaziland. The researchers, led by Sheri Weiser of the University of California-San Francisco, found that more than one-third of about 1,000 women reported that they hadn't had enough to eat in the past 12 months. For those women, the risk of selling sex for money or resources increased by 80 percent, and the risk of engaging in unprotected sex increased by nearly as much. This study strongly suggests that one of the most important benefits of reducing food insecurity would be preventing the spread of HIV/AIDS.