Rogue Internet Drug Seller Activity Highlights Need for .Pharmacy Domain Public Health Initiative
January 30, 2015
Today, the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy® (NABP®) issued a report underscoring the need for the .Pharmacy Top-Level Domain (TLD) Program as a public health initiative to help consumers distinguish legitimate online pharmacies from rogue online drug sellers. As detailed in the Internet Drug Outlet Identification Program Progress Report for State and Federal Regulators: January 2015, the two most common characteristics of sites NABP has identified as rogue drug sellers are dispensing prescription drugs without a valid prescription and offering foreign and unapproved drugs. Such factors place public health at risk and undermine regulations put in place to safeguard the drug supply chain, highlighting the need for the .pharmacy domain.
To explore trends related to this issue, NABP conducted a review of data collected on websites selling medicine illegally online to United States patients since the Association began reviewing websites in 2008. Over the last seven years, NABP has reviewed nearly 11,000 Internet drug outlets, finding that 96.3% (10,521) of the sites reviewed operate out of compliance with US pharmacy laws and practice standards. During that time period, the average percentage of “Not Recommended” sites selling drugs without a prescription was 93.4%. Current data shows that over 62% of Not Recommended sites do not post a physical address. These sites tend to be the ones most likely to dispense counterfeit drugs. Further, of the 10,521 Not Recommended sites, 91% appear to have affiliations with rogue networks of Internet drug outlets, and 12% dispense controlled substances.
The frequency of such characteristics among online drug sellers poses a danger to public health, creating a need for consumer education and resources to help identify safe online pharmacies. To protect consumers buying medications online, NABP launched the .Pharmacy TLD Program. Only legitimate Internet pharmacies and related entities will qualify for .pharmacy domains, giving consumers a way to distinguish safe and legal online pharmacies and resources from rogue sites. NABP began accepting applications for .pharmacy domain names in late 2014, and several boards of pharmacy have now registered and activated their .pharmacy domain names. Following a series of special registration periods that will continue through the first half of 2015, general availability will open for eligible pharmacy community members on June 3, 2015.
For the full report with detailed findings on the characteristics of rogue websites and the list of Not Recommended sites, visit www.AWARErx.org/get-informed/safe-acquisition/not-recommended-sites.
To find the safest sources for purchasing medicine online, consumers are encouraged to look for the Verified Internet Pharmacy Practice Sites® (VIPPS®) Seal on an accredited site and check NABP’s list of accredited sites on its prescription drug safety website, www.AWARErx.org. More information about the .pharmacy TLD is available at www.safe.pharmacy, and .pharmacy sites will be listed there as approved entities register .pharmacy domain names.
NABP is the independent, international, and impartial Association that assists its state member boards and jurisdictions for the purpose of protecting the public health.