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Larissa Doucette

Consumers Worldwide Will Soon Have New Tool for Finding Safe Internet Pharmacies

As the registry operator of the new .pharmacy domain, the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy® (NABP®), under a contract with the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), will soon provide a means for identifying safe online pharmacies and resources. Under the Association’s Registry Agreement, executed with ICANN on June 19, 2014, the new .pharmacy generic Top-Level Domain (gTLD) will be available only to legitimate online pharmacies and related entities located in the United States or other countries. The Registry Agreement also includes a number of safeguards intended to protect consumers around the world.

NABP plans to launch the .pharmacy gTLD by fall 2014, and is currently operationalizing policies to ensure that only legitimate website 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. These eligibility requirements for the .pharmacy gTLD were developed in partnership with a global coalition of stakeholders and address a shared concern about illegal online drug sellers distributing products that endanger patient health worldwide.

“Amidst a proliferation of rogue websites selling counterfeit and substandard drug products, the .pharmacy domain will give consumers an easy way to be assured that they are using a safe, legitimate Internet pharmacy,” states NABP President Joseph L. Adams, RPh. “Toward this goal, NABP is very pleased to become an official registry operator under the agreement with ICANN and to be moving forward with steps to launch the new .pharmacy gTLD.”

The next step for the .pharmacy gTLD is the registry onboarding process, which includes performance of pre-delegation testing to ensure that NABP and its technical partners have the capacity to operate the new .pharmacy gTLD in a stable and secure manner. Additionally, as the registry operator, NABP will contract with registrars that agree to ensure domain name registrants are in compliance with the established .pharmacy standards.

NABP has been working toward completion of these steps since May 2013 when the .pharmacy proposal passed ICANN’s initial evaluation. The Association has also launched an informational website,, which includes program updates and a request-for-information form for entities seeking a .pharmacy gTLD. Application instructions for entities seeking a .pharmacy gTLD will be included on the site to coincide with the launch. In July 2014, NABP will convene a meeting of the .pharmacy gTLD advisory committee to discuss implementation of the program standards and to continue fostering collaborative international partnerships.

NABP continues to monitor websites selling prescription drugs to patients in the US and, as of June 2014, has reviewed over 10,790 Internet drug outlets and found 97% of them to be out of compliance with pharmacy laws and practice standards established in the US to protect the public health. Of the 10,432 websites identified as Not Recommended, nearly half offer foreign or non-Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-approved drugs, many of which may be dangerous counterfeits, to unsuspecting US patients. Further, health and regulatory agencies in the US and abroad have reported cases of patients harmed by counterfeit, substandard, and adulterated medications distributed by illegal Internet sellers.

Among the global coalition of stakeholders behind the .pharmacy initiative are the Alliance for Safe Online Pharmacies, Eli Lilly and Company, European Alliance for Access to Safe Medicines, FDA, Gilead Sciences, Inc, International Pharmaceutical Federation, INTERPOL, Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Inc, LegitScript, Merck/MSD, National Association of Pharmacy Regulatory Authorities, Pfizer, and state boards of pharmacy.

For more information about NABP and the .Pharmacy gTLD Program, visit

NABP is the independent, international, and impartial Association that assists its state member boards and jurisdictions for the purpose of protecting the public health.