PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) - Drug dealers who normally push substances like cocaine or fentanyl are now selling hydroxychloroquine on the dark web.

"The dark web is the portion of the internet that isn't accessible through typical search engines," said Ken Colburn, who is the CEO of Data Doctors. Colburn says it's a marketplace for illegal products and services.

"When people want something that they can't get through normal channels, or let's say you have to have a prescription, or maybe it's just not available in your area when they see those opportunities, they're going to jump all over it," said Colburn, referring to the criminal organizations that sell on the dark web.

Right now, one of those products is hydroxychloroquine, which is a drug developed to treat malaria and is commonly used by lupus and rheumatoid arthritis patients.

Malaria drug touted by Trump for sale on the dark web

Some doctors have used it to treat COVID-19 patients, although its effectiveness remains unknown. President Donald Trump has touted the drug during news conferences, going so far as to say some people may want to use it as a preventive measure.

The attention has resulted in a shortage of the drug in some parts of the United States. Now, investigators with the website, Elliptic, have found hydroxychloroquine for sale on the dark web.

The investigators found a package of 150 pills for sale for $500.

Physicians and pharmacists warn that the drug should not be used without a doctor's supervision because it carries with some potentially severe side effects.

Morgan Loew's hard-hitting investigations can be seen weekdays on CBS 5 News at 6:30 p.m. and 10 p.m.
 
 

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