Canadian researchers recently conducted a study of medical spam emails, by opening an email box and ordering drugs and herbal remedies they were offered. The original report is open access: Gernburd P, Jadad AR (2007) Will Spam Overwhelm Our Defenses? Evaluating Offerings for Drugs and Natural Health Products. PLoS Med 4(9): e274 doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.0040274 .
The story turned up today (11/15/2007) on NPR as: The Truth about medical spam. (Audio file.) Sydney Spiesel, a physician columnist for Slate.com, reported study findings that, of more than 4,000 spam received, about one-third were medical; and after a couple of weeks elapsed, only 19 of the web links in the thousand-plus spam were still active. The researchers ordered products from these sites using a credit card, and nine products actually arrived. The study did not report whether the products received were actually what they purported to be, and Dr. Spiesel speculated that perhaps the researchers planned another article.
Foxnews published a story about the study on September 17 titled: Study: Spam E-mail good source for prescription drugs. Interesting interpretation. Do you suppose they actually read the article?