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Larissa Doucette

With many illegal drug sellers operating websites that claim to be legitimate, the Partnership for Safe Medicines has released a new resource to help consumers identify the characteristics of a fake online pharmacy. The infographic highlights five common tactics used by rogue online drug sellers that may make a website appear safe and legal, and explains how they may actually represent safety concerns. For example, many illegal websites that claim to be Canadian are actually selling counterfeit drugs manufactured in dirty, unsafe conditions. Other suspicious characteristics explained in the infographic include websites that: link to an “international drug list,” claim to be certified, claim to employ licensed pharmacists, or offer to allow users to “chat live” with a doctor.

NABP has reviewed more than 10,900 websites selling prescription drugs to patients in the United States and found that nearly 97% are operating out of compliance with pharmacy laws and practice standards established to protect the public health. To help consumers in the US find the safest sources for purchasing medications online, NABP developed the Verified Internet Pharmacy Practice Sites® (VIPPS®) program. NABP encourages consumers to look for the VIPPS Seal and to check NABP’s list of accredited sites on the AWARXE®Prescription Drug Safety Program website. In addition, consumers may soon watch for pharmacy sites using the newly launched .pharmacy Top-Level Domain; sites in the domain (with a website address ending in .pharmacy) will be reviewed by NABP and approved only if they are legitimate online pharmacies or pharmacy resources adhering to applicable pharmacy laws and best practices.