Yesterday, the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy® (NABP®) issued a report that profiles the continued pervasiveness of illegal online drug seller activity and the need for increased awareness about the risks such activity presents to public health. As detailed in the Internet Drug Outlet Identification Program Progress Report for State and Federal Regulators: April 2015, the threat posed by illegal online drug sellers underscores the necessity of ongoing consumer education efforts. Specifically, the report highlights consumer outreach being done through the Association’s .Pharmacy Top-Level Domain (TLD) and AWARXE® Prescription Drug Safety programs. Consumer education is one of NABP’s primary goals, and in 2015, the Association is sharing patient safety information through television, radio, online advertising, and social media.
The report details NABP’s data collected on websites selling medicine illegally online to United States patients since 2008. In that time, NABP has reviewed nearly 11,000 Internet drug outlets, finding that 96.2% (10,544) of the sites reviewed operate out of compliance with US pharmacy laws and practice standards. Currently, approximately 88.3% of “Not Recommended” sites are selling prescription drugs without requiring a valid prescription. In addition, approximately 62% do not provide a valid address, and nearly 50% offer drugs that are either foreign, or not approved by the US Food and Drug Administration. Further, of the 10,521 Not Recommended sites, 91% can be traced to affiliate networks of rogue Internet drug outlets, and more than 12% dispense controlled substances in violation of US laws and regulations.
The frequency of such characteristics among online drug sellers poses a danger to public health, and was the impetus for NABP launching the .Pharmacy TLD Program. Only legitimate Internet pharmacies and pharmacy-related websites 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. General availability, when any entity with a pharmacy or pharmacy-related website may apply and, if approved, register for a .pharmacy domain name, will begin 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.
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.