[IMGL=WHITE]http://www.drugs-forum.com/forum/picture.php?albumid=2192&pictureid=18437 [/IMGL] Four dollars for five Vicodin pills is a deal in Mansfield; two-and-a-half pills for the same price is a rip-off in Zanesville, according to a website that tracks black market prescription drug prices for research.
Nabarun Dasgupta, a doctoral candidate in epidemiology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, started the website, StreetRx.com, in November 2010 to crowd source prescription drug prices.
Dasgupta said he worked with law enforcement to make sure the website’s not a tool for criminals, he said.
“People who sell and buy drugs know prices,” said John Burke, president of the Ohio Task Force Commanders Association. “I doubt they are going to a website.”
The site, which had more than 2,000 submissions its first year, allows users from police officers to criminals to input the name of the drug purchased, where it was bought and the price. Another feature allows people to rate whether they got a good deal.
The ratings have two purposes: to increase user engagement and to exclude overly positive or negative ratings as outliers in research, Dasgupta said.
The website is one of several tools used by the Researched Abuse, Diversion and Addiction-Related Services system to track prescription drug usage for pharmaceutical companies and others who subscribe. The system was presented at a recent Ohio Attorney General’s Prescription Drug Task Force meeting as a possible investment in drug tracking.
Dasgupta said he’s confident in the accuracy of StreetRx.com prices because they reflect prices reported on underground traffickers’ websites and law enforcement surveys.
“We think it’s pretty consistent with what we see,” Burke said.
Prescription drugs prices are different than other street drugs, such as heroin and cocaine, because sellers can control the purity. That means Percocet pills in Los Angeles don’t cost much more than Percocet pills in Chillicothe.
Because prices are relatively constant, any shift may indicate a change in supply or demand, which is important information for law enforcement, Burke said.
“I think it’s been an effective tool,” he said.
MarrionStar.com December 25, 2012
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