NABP issued a report discussing the Association’s expanded efforts to raise consumer awareness about the dangers of medications purchased from unapproved and unknown online sources and the solution offered by the .Pharmacy Top-Level Domain (TLD) Program, which provides a means for finding safe Internet pharmacies. As detailed in the Internet Drug Outlet Identification Program Progress Report for State and Federal Regulators: April 2016, many patients remain unaware of the dangers associated with obtaining unapproved medications from sources outside of regulated supply chains. NABP continues to recommend that patients use Internet pharmacies that have been granted a .pharmacy domain name. These sites have been evaluated by NABP and found to be in compliance with pharmacy laws and meet high standards for pharmacy practice and patient safety.
A new NABP public service announcement (PSA) aims to raise awareness about the dangers of buying medications from illegal online drug sellers, which often distribute drugs containing toxic ingredients or no medicine at all. The PSA highlights how difficult it can be for consumers to know what they are receiving from such unknown sources and encourages consumers to use Internet pharmacies with a .pharmacy domain. Other outreach efforts are described in the report.
Through research conducted over the past eight years, NABP finds that an alarming number of websites selling prescription medications online operate illegally, importing medications from outside of safeguarded supply chains, frequently without a prescription, medical oversight, or recourse for patients who experience adverse effects. NABP has reviewed over 11,000 websites selling prescription medications online to United States consumers and has found approximately 96% of them to be operating illegally, placing patients’ health at risk. Further, of the 10,685 (95.8%) sites found to be operating out of compliance with state and federal laws and/or NABP patient safety and pharmacy practice standards, the majority (89%) were found to be dispensing prescription drugs without a valid prescription. Just over half offer foreign and non-Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-approved drugs. Most sites selling drugs illegally online do not post any address (62%), and nearly half have their domain names registered anonymously.
The .Pharmacy TLD Program aims to provide consumers around the world a means for easily identifying safe and legal online pharmacies and related resources. More information about the .pharmacy TLD, including a list of approved entities with registered .pharmacy domain names, is available at www.safe.pharmacy. For the full report with detailed findings on the characteristics of rogue websites and the list of Not Recommended sites, visit the Acquire Safely section of www.AWARErx.pharmacy.