The National Association of Boards of Pharmacy® (NABP®), with the support of a global coalition of stakeholders, has applied to the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) to own and operate the new .PHARMACY generic Top-Level Domain (gTLD). At a time when the vast majority of Web sites selling prescription drugs online are doing so illegally – many of them selling unapproved, substandard, and counterfeit medicine – NABP is seeking to establish the .PHARMACY space as a secure and trustworthy destination where consumers can be sure the medications they buy online are authentic and safe.
NABP has applied for .PHARMACY as a community-based application representing legitimate online pharmacies and prescription drug-related organizations worldwide. By filing this application, NABP and the coalition seek to ensure that the .PHARMACY gTLD is kept out of the hands of a third party that, for commercial reasons, may turn a blind eye toward illegal and/or counterfeit activity within the gTLD. NABP will ensure that only legitimate Web site operators that adhere to pharmacy laws in the jurisdictions in which they are based and to which they sell medicine will be able to register domain names in .PHARMACY. The ultimate benefactors of this new gTLD will be the health care community and patients worldwide, who will be assured that all pharmacy sites ending in the .PHARMACY gTLD are safe and legitimate.
“The .PHARMACY registry will help us to further protect patients who choose to purchase medications online,” states NABP President Michael A. Burleson, RPh. “We will do this by vetting all registrants prior to acceptance so as to ensure that they meet all applicable regulatory standards, including pharmacy licensure, drug authenticity, and valid prescription requirements. NABP is uniquely positioned to accomplish this due to its long history of protecting patients from illegal pharmacies through its VIPPS® (Verified Internet Pharmacy Practice SitesCM) accreditation program, which has been accrediting online pharmacies since 1999. Additionally, through its Internet Drug Outlet Identification program, NABP has reviewed more than 9,800 Web sites selling prescription drugs to determine if they are operating legitimately. A list of the ‘Not Recommended’ sites, as well as a list of VIPPS pharmacies, is available for consumers to review and make an educated choice about where they can safely purchase their medications.”
As of June 1, 2012, NABP had reviewed 9,837 Internet drug outlets selling prescription medications and found 9,509 Web sites – 97% of the total number of sites reviewed – to be out of compliance with pharmacy laws and practice standards established in the US to protect the public health. Of these 9,509 Web sites identified as Not Recommended, nearly half offer foreign or non-FDA-approved drugs, and many of these distribute dangerous counterfeits to unsuspecting consumers.
NABP, with its coalition of stakeholders, will launch a public awareness campaign leveraging its AWARXE consumer protection program, to educate consumers about the dangers of buying medicine from unknown sources over the Internet and to help build their trust in .PHARMACY sites.
As stated, NABP has applied as a representative of the global pharmacy community, which includes independent community pharmacies, chain drug stores, Internet pharmacies, schools and colleges of pharmacy, patient advocacy groups, pharmaceutical manufacturers, and wholesale distributors of prescription medications. Among the coalition of stakeholders behind this initiative are the Alliance for Safe Online Pharmacies, Eli Lilly and Company, European Alliance for Access to Safe Medicines, Gilead Sciences, Inc, International Pharmaceutical Federation, Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Inc, Merck/MSD, National Association of Pharmacy Regulatory Authorities, and the state boards of pharmacy.
For more information about NABP and its consumer protection programs, visit the NABP Web site at https://safe.pharmacy/buy-safely/.
Established in 1904, NABP is the independent, international, and impartial Association that assists its 54 member state boards of pharmacy and jurisdictions in developing, implementing, and enforcing uniform standards for the purpose of protecting the public health.