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The aim of this study was to describe and understand the purchase of unlicensed slimming drugs via the Web. This paper draws on social theory, specifically theories used within criminology to inform the analysis of Web purchasing of slimming medicines. Virtual ethnographic techniques, including non-participant observation of three Web forums were used, along with interviews with key stakeholders involved in medicines regulation in the UK. This paper presents the findings from a thematic analysis of text obtained from the forums. These indicate that particular aspects of The Web allow a new route to purchasing unlicensed medicine and appear to circumvent some of the threats and sanctions associated with illegal drug purchases. Accessibility is provided to those who previously would not have engaged in such activities. It is suggested that this may constitute a new method of conducting deviant behavior. Copyright © 2012 ACM.

Original publication




Conference paper

Publication Date





284 - 287