Article Cites NABP’s VIPPS and .Pharmacy Programs Among Emerging Digital Technologies to Combat Fake Medicines

April 28, 2017

Counterfeit medicine is widely recognized as a global public health threat, creating a need for programs to prevent their intrusion into otherwise legitimate medication supply chains, according to a recent Expert Opinion on Drug Safety journal article by Tim K. Mackey and Gaurvika Nayyar, titled “A review of existing and emerging digital technologies to combat the global trade in fake medicines.” Counterfeit medicine has been detected in multiple links within the global drug supply chain, including via sale on the internet. The article describes the efforts of several organizations, including NABP, that have stepped up to address the problem. As early as 1999, NABP launched the Verified Internet Pharmacy Practice Sites® (VIPPS®) program in response to the threat posed by rogue internet drug outlets. To keep pace with the changing internet landscape, as stated in the article, NABP launched the .Pharmacy Verified Websites Program in 2014, creating a “‘built-in’ verification tool for online pharmacies by signaling to consumers that any website with a .pharmacy web address is legitimate.”

Given that 3.5 billion people are connected to the internet, there is a growing need for a “digital ‘modernization’ of the drug supply chain,” the article states. Patients unwittingly engage in dangerous buying behaviors that put their safety at risk. “When consumers purchase medicines from illegal online pharmacies, they become active participants in circumventing a regulatory system designed to protect the safety, quality, and appropriate use of prescription drugs, while also creating broader market demand for the global manufacture, distribution and spread of fake medicines,” according to the article, which is available for purchase here.