The so-called ‘darknet’ has gained notoriety as the site of 'drug emporiums’ like the recently shut-down Silk Road, where illegal narcotics including cocaine, ecstasy and heroin could be bought at the click of a button.
Yet it is not just those seeking illegal highs who are using networks like Tor, where anonymity is ensured through encryption.
Americans who do not have medical insurance, or who want to buy medications which have not yet been approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) are heading to the darknet, where therapeutic drugs are available at huge discount.
“The U.S. medical establishment really seems to be more about cancer as a business,” one man 'Mike’ told Vocativ.
He told the website that his father had refused to travel to France to buy potentially life-saving medication when he got cancer, and had died of the disease. So when his mother got breast cancer he was determined to access the best medication available, at the best price.
“Some of the generics that she had been on, in the US it’d be a $27,000 or $28,000 a year on prescription. You look at what you can do online and you get the same thing for about $1,800 to $2,000 per year. It’s 90% saving,” he said.
He said that despite having insurance, his family were still having to pay $34,000 a year for treatment, and he began to look for cheaper ways to access the medication.
“The internet being what it is, you just have to poke around a little bit and you’ll find all kinds of things… If there is something that’s available online that may be of utility for her, then you go ahead and try it,” he said.