An apparent feud between two black market pharmacies has shed light on a shady global industry. “Rx-Promotion and SpamIt probably are responsible for upward of 50 or 60 percent of spam that you and I got in our inboxes over the last five years,” said Brian Krebs, a cyber-security reporter…

The spammers are typically independent contractors paid on commission by the pharmacy for the sales they generate — something like 30 or 40 percent of the purchase price.

But once a customer goes to the pharmacy site and chooses his or her drug of choice, the pharmacy takes over. It finds someone to process the credit card payment, which is difficult given the nature of the transaction. Then, it has to get the drugs to the customer.

“They don’t actually typically warehouse any drugs themselves,” Savage said. “So they’ll contract with third parties who have access, usually, to generic drug manufacturing in India and China.”

In the course of Savage’s research, he and his team placed over 800 test orders and typically received their chosen medications in a timely fashion.

“We’ve maybe only had one time where we didn’t get anything,” said Savage. They tested some of the drugs they received, and all had the proper amount of the active ingredient.

Savage says the vast majority of customers are ordering erectile dysfunction drugs. Others order painkillers or stimulants for recreational use. But up to 15 percent of orders come from people seeking medications to treat chronic health conditions, likely because they can’t afford to purchase them through legal avenues.

Source: NPR report.