Feel My Pain

A reporter goes after the online drug business and gets wasted

I then spoke to the Houston DEA office again. At this point, I told them I had bought hydrocodone from the CRDRX.com site. This time, talking was enough to pique an interest. However, a public information officer said that would have to be handled through the DEA's national office, home of the brisk woman who had kicked me aside weeks earlier.

Next move was to figure out what, if anything, authorities were doing in Florida. I contacted a spokeswoman at the Florida Department of Health, as well as the head of the department's Board of Pharmacy. Neither expressed awareness of the connection between Discount Medicine of Canada, Liddy's Pharmacy and CRDRX.com. However, Pharmacy Board Director Stacey Wolf asked for any information I had on Liddy's Pharmacy.

I then left a few messages with the DEA's Las Vegas field office.

Anabolic steroids are among the most prevalent on the Net.
Anabolic steroids are among the most prevalent on the Net.
Some online services make it easy to get the good stuff.
Some online services make it easy to get the good stuff.

I explained that I had bought drugs from a company that might be based in their city, and that I might buy more.

I asked if Gonzales needed a license to operate. I said I'd like to know what laws, if any, Gonzales and I had broken.

I never heard back from the Las Vegas office, so I called the Los Angeles field office, which handles Las Vegas's public affairs.

For the third time I informed a DEA office that I'd purchased drugs online. A spokeswoman there listened to my story and said she'd get back with some info. She never did.

I tried to purchase drugs with the same spiel through www.rxconsults4u.com, a North Carolina-based online referral service that has contracted with a pharmacy in Stafford. However, they balked at my medical records. No way would they approve a consultation without any indication of an existing condition.

I now had a better understanding of the online market. Some services appeared to have standards and to really want to help. Some had no scruples, but they're all lumped together.

So, in some corners of the law enforcement community, a real problem is ignored: the chronic pain sufferers, those who honestly need their meds and feel they can't get them any other way. And as long as these overlooked folks have access to what they feel is competent, compassionate health care, they will keep the online services in business. It's simply an online version of the failure of the "war on drugs": The natural law of supply and demand is far more powerful than any law the government can dish out.

Which is why even some authorities want to approach prescription drugs without infringing on patients' rights to proper treatment. Hence the open letter from the attorneys general.

That letter explained the National Association of Attorneys General's 2001 guidelines "supporting balance between the treatment of pain and enforcement against diversion and abuse of prescription pain medications."

In 2004, the DEA issued similar guidelines, which indicated that state and federal authorities were on the same page. However, the DEA quickly withdrew the guidelines, replacing them with an interim policy that, according to the attorneys general, "emphasizes enforcement and seems likely to have a chilling effect on physicians engaged in the legitimate practice of medicine."

According to chronic pain sufferers, it wasn't so much a chill as an ice age. So I wanted to talk to folks who used online referral services, to feel their pain, as it were. So I checked out www.drugbuyers.com. The administrator and moderator graciously let me post my queries, and for the most part I received stories about people in pain fed up with the DEA, HMOs and sensationalist media that demonize an entire segment of the population. For the most part, their stories made sense: I ain't getting help where I should be getting it, so why wouldn't I go online?

Now, here's where we get to the part about the stupidest fucking thing I've ever done in my life, including chewing and swallowing a wad of tobacco when I was eight, just to impress my older brothers.

One poster asked if I had discovered the difference between ROPs and NROPs. I said I had, and explained that one service gave me a consult with laughable medical records, while the other just laughed at me. Someone followed up, asking which online service approved me for the dope.

In the interest of being open and honest and encouraging informed debate, I explained my experience, naming CRDRX.com. It was nothing I hadn't already talked to Gonzales about; it was not an ambush. Unfortunately, I hadn't truly realized that, in a black market, almost anything goes.

A person with the e-mail name "Carlos," who identified himself as a CRDRX.com employee, read my post and decided to exact revenge. Carlos apparently got access to my CRDRX.com account -- separate from the Drugbuyers.com forum. Someone went into my personal Yahoo e-mail account, which contained a mixture of professional and personal e-mails. That person deleted every single file.

While doing so, that person could have printed out and copied everything in there. A shrewd operator, Carlos suggested to the forum that my CRDRX.com password might be the same as my Yahoo password. Fortunately for Carlos, I'm an idiot.

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