The National Association of Boards of Pharmacy® (NABP®) today issued a report to raise awareness about how rogue Internet drugs sites are preying on consumers’ fears about drug shortages. With the most critical shortages involving cancer, antibiotic, nutrition, and electrolyte-imbalance medicines, counterfeiters are taking advantage of a lucrative niche market for fake prescription medicine. A report NABP released today on Internet drug outlets found that 96% of the more than 9,500 Web sites analyzed continue to operate out of compliance with United States pharmacy laws, fuel prescription drug abuse and misuse, and provide an outlet for counterfeit medicines to enter the US drug supply – all of which significantly endanger the health and safety of Americans.
NABP has identified several rogue drug sites affiliated with the counterfeit Avastin® scheme that sell unapproved medications from numerous foreign sources to US patients without a valid prescription, putting patients in danger. In addition, NABP has found that rogue Internet drug outlets are exploiting consumers’ concern over prescription drug shortages to spread misinformation and sell counterfeit and substandard drugs, such as erectile dysfunction medications – many of them knockoffs of legitimate brands – that are not in short supply.
“The problems of prescription drug shortages, gray-market wholesalers, and illegal online drug sellers are intertwined,” said NABP President Malcolm J. Broussard, RPh. “Patients and health care providers must be educated about which medications are in short supply, and how to distinguish legitimate sources from conniving frauds. NABP continues to encourage new methods and partnerships among state boards of pharmacy, federal regulators, and other public and private stakeholders to protect the public health and educate the public about counterfeit drugs and other potential dangers of buying medication from unknown and unapproved sources over the Internet.”
As reported in Internet Drug Outlet Identification Program Progress Report for State and Federal Regulators: April 2012, NABP has reviewed more than 9,500 Web sites and the vast majority of sites found to be out of compliance (94%) can be traced to rogue affiliate networks obtaining prescription drugs from questionable sources, and dispensing them indiscriminately to patients without a valid prescription or medical oversight. The report also found that of the rogue Web sites:
- 9,062 (94%) appear to be affiliated with a network
- 8,122 do not require a valid prescription
- 4,648 offer foreign or non-Food and Drug Administration-approved drugs
- 2,211 have a physical address located outside of the US
- 3,363 have server locations in foreign countries
NABP’s continued analysis finds that the Internet marketplace remains a pervasive contributor to the rampant misuse and abuse of prescription drugs. To help consumers find safe sources for purchasing medicine online safely, NABP developed the VIPPS® (Verified Internet Pharmacy Practice SitesCM) accreditation program. Consumers should look for the VIPPS Seal on an accredited site, or check NABP’s database on its consumer protection Web site www.AWARErx.org. As part of its continued efforts to combat these rogue sites, NABP and the state boards of pharmacy are stepping up their efforts to educate the public through the AWARXE® consumer protection program. The AWARXE Web site provides information on safely obtaining medications and includes updated news, tips, information, and links to relevant NABP resources.
NABP publishes on its Web site and on www.AWARErx.org the Not Recommended List, which lists those Internet drug outlets that appear to be out of compliance with state and federal laws or NABP patient safety and pharmacy practice standards.
For the full report with detailed findings on the characteristics of rogue Web sites, visit www.AWARErx.org/news.
NABP is the independent, international, and impartial Association that assists its member boards and jurisdictions in developing, implementing, and enforcing uniform standards for the purpose of protecting the public health.