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Addiction. 2017 Apr;112(4):640-648. doi: 10.1111/add.13720. Epub 2017 Feb 2.

Purity, adulteration and price of drugs bought on-line versus off-line in the Netherlands.

Author information

1
Trimbos Institute, Netherlands Institute of Mental Health and Addiction, Utrecht, the Netherlands.

Erratum in

Abstract

BACKGROUND AND AIMS:

On-line drug markets flourish and consumers have high expectations of on-line quality and drug value. The aim of this study was to (i) describe on-line drug purchases and (ii) compare on-line with off-line purchased drugs regarding purity, adulteration and price.

DESIGN:

Comparison of laboratory analyses of 32 663 drug consumer samples (stimulants and hallucinogens) purchased between January 2013 and January 2016, 928 of which were bought on-line.

SETTING:

The Netherlands.

MEASUREMENTS:

Primary outcome measures were (i) the percentage of samples purchased on-line and (ii) the chemical purity of powders (or dosage per tablet); adulteration; and the price per gram, blotter or tablet of drugs bought on-line compared with drugs bought off-line.

FINDINGS:

The proportion of drug samples purchased on-line increased from 1.4% in 2013 to 4.1% in 2015. The frequency varied widely, from a maximum of 6% for controlled, traditional substances [ecstasy tablets, 3,4-methylenedioxy-methamphetamine (MDMA) powder, amphetamine powder, cocaine powder, 4-bromo-2,5-dimethoxyphenethylamine (2C-B) and lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD)] to more than a third for new psychoactive substances (NPS) [4-fluoroamphetamine (4-FA), 5/6-(2-aminopropyl)benzofuran (5/6-APB) and methoxetamine (MXE)]. There were no large differences in drug purity, yet small but statistically significant differences were found for 4-FA (on-line 59% versus off-line 52% purity for 4-FA on average, P = 0.001), MDMA powders (45 versus 61% purity for MDMA, P = 0.02), 2C-B tablets (21 versus 10 mg 2C-B/tablet dosage, P = 0.49) and ecstasy tablets (131 versus 121 mg MDMA/tablet dosage, P = 0.05). The proportion of adulterated samples purchased on-line and off-line did not differ, except for 4-FA powder, being less adulterated on-line (χ2  = 8.3; P < 0.02). Drug prices were mainly higher on-line, ranging for various drugs from 10 to 23% higher than that of drugs purchased off-line (six of 10 substances: P < 0.05).

CONCLUSIONS:

Dutch drug users increasingly purchase drugs on-line: new psychoactive substances in particular. Purity and adulteration do not vary considerably between drugs purchased on-line and off-line for most substances, while on-line prices are mostly higher than off-line prices.

KEYWORDS:

Adulteration; cryptomarkets; darknet; dosage; drug markets; price; purity; quality; webshops

PMID:
27936283
DOI:
10.1111/add.13720
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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