Earlier this week the Partnership for Safe Medicines posted an interesting piece detailing how a sales affiliate of a known rogue pharmacy is using twitter to promote its offerings. That account is of course disturbing not only because it promotes a website which allows consumers to buy medicines like accutane without a prescription, but each posting on that twitter account appears to have been made in an automated fashion via twitter’s API. This suggests a level of sophistication above that of the average webmaster’s.
As troubling as these reports are, we should not be surprised. When there is money to be made, criminals will take the steps necessary to gain every advantage possible. A Russian online pharmacy network called RX Partners (also known as StimulCash) has been publishing content using social media formats for some time. Note the examples of the RX Partners blog, forum, wiki, and twitter account below.
The RX Partners blog offers professional advice on how to market an online pharmacy using black hat search engine optimization techniques, general advice for online pharmacy webmasters, and of course, announces their upcoming retreat for their affiliates in on the mediterranean: a four day vacation in a five star hotel in the Turkish port Antalya.
The RX Partners online forum offers English, Russian, and Spanish sections for its affiliates.
If you are an affiliate in the RX Partners network with technical expertise, you can contribute on their wiki.
And of course, RX-Partners has its own twitter page as well. At the time of this writing they have 1,071 followers.
Don’t think their use of social media is meant only to spread information among their sales affiliates. The modern online pharmacy template from this crew encourages visitors to take advantage of social media sites to spread the word about the pharmacy itself, promoting the sale of products that have not been approved by the US Food and Drug Administration like chewable or “soft” Viagra.
Cyveillance endorses the Partnership for Safe Medicine’s call for internet companies to do a better job of removing unlawful content from their sites. Content like online pharmacy marketing on popular social media sites endangers a public that may be easily deceived by slick marketing but delivers a host of dangers, like counterfeit, stolen, and unapproved medicines.