4% of Americans buy drugs online

Only 4% of Americans have ever used the Internet to buy prescription drugs - and even fewer do so through foreign pharmacies - despite Web sites maintained by a handful of states to help citizens import medicines more cheaply from Canada, Pew Internet and American Life Project finds. 62% believe drugs bought online are less safe than those purchased from a local pharmacy.

Only 4% of Americans have ever used the Internet to buy prescription drugs - and even fewer do so through foreign pharmacies - despite Web sites maintained by a handful of states to help citizens import medicines more cheaply from Canada, Pew Internet and American Life Project finds. 62% believe drugs bought online are less safe than those purchased from a local pharmacy. Minnesota, Wisconsin, North Dakota and New Hampshire are among states that established such sites before Pew's May 15-June 17 survey period. Rhode Island linked its state-run prescription drug site to Wisconsin's. Illinois's came online later in the summer. Of the 4% of Americans who bought online, the vast majority went to pharmacies based in the United States, meaning the population of online drug importers is even smaller. Most said the site required a prescription and said they had one from their doctor.