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…Flying Null calls on Governments to crack down on the promotion

and sale of Internet drugs…

Spam promoting medical treatments now accounts for more than 10 percent of junk email distributed via the Internet. This is the finding of a study into the availability of drugs over the Internet by Flying Null, the UK inventor of groundbreaking tagging technologies.

Flying Null found that in almost all cases investigated it was possible to purchase drugs online in response to spam without any medical checks or advice whatsoever.

In the lead up to the US FDA Anti-Counterfeit Drug Initiative Public Meeting to be held on Wednesday October 15 2003, Flying Null is calling for Governments worldwide to bring companies that promote and sell drugs and medical treatments online within the scope of current legislation.

“Web sites that promote and sell prescription drugs and medical treatments online without a license – and more worryingly, without medical advice - are manipulating the weakest members of society,” said Mark Gostick, business development director, Flying Null. “It is worryingly easy for consumers to prescribe themselves a poisonous cocktail of drugs by mistake – what’s right for the average patient could be lethal to someone on heart medication.”

Flying Null monitored spam hitting a test mail server over a three-month period from July to September 2003 and investigated a random selection of cases on their requirements for buying drugs online. Of the 8,301 unsolicited spam messages received during the monitoring period, 849 offered drugs and medical treatments for sale.

The Flying Null study found that email promotion of sex therapies such as Viagra was most widely circulated, accounting for 41.3 per cent of all drug and medical treatment related spam.

Online pharmacies promoting a range of drugs including Phentermine, Prozac were the second most widely circulated form of spam, accounting for 37.3 per cent. Weight loss, human growth hormone and anti-depressants all made the top five list accounting for 8.7, 7.8 and 2.1 per cent respectively.

The research follows a US survey in April 2003 by, a web site that evaluates online pharmacies, which found that only 50 per cent of the pharmacy sites it has evaluated dispense through a licensed pharmacy, giving rise to concerns that consumers may receive poor quality or incorrectly dispensed medications.

“Buying drugs online is as easy as buying sweets from a sweet shop. The unlicensed promotion and sale of drugs online is rampant and a menace to society,” said Gostick.

“It’s truly despicable. If you started selling Prozac or Viagra at your local market, you’d soon be closed down, yet there is currently little stopping anyone from setting up a web site and selling these drugs online without a license,” added Gostick.

Recent figures from the US Food and Drugs Administration (FDA) show that counterfeit drug investigations have increased to over 20 per year since 2000, after averaging only about 5 per year through the late 1990’s. It is estimated that upwards of 10% of drugs worldwide are counterfeit, and in some countries more than 50% of the drug supply is made up of counterfeit drugs.

“The Internet has exploded the market for ‘grey’ drugs traffic – and with it comes a huge health risk to consumers. Who hasn’t received an offer for cheap Viagra or discount drugs? Consumers need to understand that taking up these offers exposes them to considerable risk – they have no idea what they are really getting. Without valid authentication of some form, there will always be potential danger.”

Flying Null has developed a low-cost authentication product (EMID™) to enable Pharmaceutical brand owners to implement cost-effective, highly-secure anti-counterfeiting schemes, giving peace of mind to consumers about the quality and provenance of their purchase.

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Editor’s Note

Samples and screen grab images of the spam analysed are also available.

More on the FDA Anti-Counterfeit Drug Initiative Public Meeting to be held on Wednesday October 15 2003 is at

About Flying Null

Flying Null Ltd is a spin out from the international consulting and investment group - Generics Ltd - a centre of excellence in business and technology headquartered in Cambridge UK. The magnetic materials and technology at the core of the Flying Null solution were invented at Generics and Flying Null, the company, was launched to commercialise the concept. Flying Null owns all the intellectual property rights in the technology and sells its technology to specific applications clients who use it under licence.

FN tags are magnetically neutral tags which can be easily coded with information, this data can then be read with a simple hand held scanner. Because of their magnetic nature they can be read without line-of-sight. As such they can be completely hidden within products or packaging.

FN tags are also extremely resilient to high and low temperatures, high pressure, water, chemicals, dirt and other damaging substances commonly found in the supply chain. This not only makes them resistant to harsh operating environments, but it also allows them to be integrated during the manufacturing processes of many products where other solutions would be destroyed or damaged. For further details check

Media contact

Sarra Mander

Rainier PR

Telephone: +44 (0) 20 7494 6570


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