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Larissa Doucette

LegitScript Investigation Finds Registrar Facilitating Fake Pharmacies’ Unlawful Activities

The National Association of Boards of Pharmacy® (NABP®) has contacted the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) urging the organization to take action against, a Web site registrar that has been found to be responsible for 44% of the Web sites that NABP has designated as Not Recommended due to their noncompliance with pharmacy practice laws. NABP took this step after learning of an investigation by LegitScript that found that sponsors one-third of the world’s active rogue Internet drug outlets, even though it is the registrar for only about 0.2% of the world’s domain names overall.

The LegitScript report, available at, details an undercover investigation of in which the company agreed to help researchers, who were posing as an international cybercrime network, sell fake cancer medications and controlled substances without a prescription. Undercover researchers told that they planned to create thousands of Web sites that would sell controlled substance medications without requiring a prescription, as well as unapproved formulations of various cancer medications to be falsely marketed as genuine “branded” pharmaceuticals. The report includes screenshots of e-mail messages in which welcomed the business, saying that it is “one of the safest [registrars] for pharma domains,” and offered to help the registrants avoid being shut down by drug safety regulators. The undercover researchers ultimately were able to register hundreds of Web sites with names such as and, and post fake online pharmacy content, LegitScript reports.

NABP has been reviewing Web sites selling prescription medication since 2008 to determine if these drug outlets meet state and federal standards and pharmacy practice laws. As part of this endeavor, NABP created the Not Recommended list to help consumers identify sites that pose a risk to their health. Of the 9,000 sites reviewed, more than 96% are not in compliance with pharmacy practice laws and pose a significant risk to consumers. Most of these Web sites are not licensed as pharmacies at all; sell prescription drugs without requiring a valid prescription; and sell unregulated, substandard, or counterfeit medications. The rogue Web sites identified by NABP place patients at risk and illness and deaths associated with such Web sites have been documented. The Not Recommended list as well as a list of NABP’s VIPPS® (Verified Internet Pharmacy Practice SitesCM)-accredited sites can be found at The AWARXE consumer protection program is run through the NABP Foundation® to educate consumers on prescription drug safety, including buying medication safely online.

For many years NABP has been urging stakeholders to take action against rogue Internet pharmacies for the protection of consumers. NABP first contacted ICANN in August 2010, to encourage ICANN to take additional steps to protect Internet users from Web sites engaged in the illicit sale of prescription drugs. Additionally, it was at NABP’s urging that search engines Bing, Google, and Yahoo! stopped selling online advertising to rogue online pharmacies. NABP has also supported the efforts of LegitScript, which uses standards recognized by NABP for the purpose of identifying Internet drug sellers as operating legitimately or as engaged in unlawful behavior.

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.