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Larissa Doucette

Brick-and-mortar versions of rogue online pharmacies are popping up across the country, particularly in places like Florida where senior populations are high. However, these shops, called “facilitators,” carry the same risks as their virtual counterparts, warns Carmen Catizone, MS, RPh, DPh, NABP executive director/secretary, in an interview with CNBC.

NABP has reviewed more than 10,750 websites selling prescription drugs and found 97% of the sites to be out of compliance with United States pharmacy laws and practice standards. The danger in purchasing medications through such rogue Internet drug outlets or through brick-and-mortar facilitators is that they work outside of the US regulatory system, exposing customers to counterfeit and dangerous products, Catizone says.

“The dose is too high, too low. Some of these medications, the coloring has been from highway paint, they’ve been manufactured in facilities that are infested by rats, rodents. There are no sanitary conditions, no oversight of how that product is prepared. So it really is Russian roulette,” Catizone explains.

Rogue online drug sellers and storefront facilitators often lure customers with the promise of less expensive medications, but such offers can come with significant safety risks. Consumers searching for prescription assistance and discounts are encouraged to consult a list of resources for obtaining affordable medications on the AWARXE website.

To help consumers in the US find the safest sources for purchasing medications online, NABP developed the Verified Internet Pharmacy Practice SitesCM (VIPPS®) program. NABP encourages consumers to look for the VIPPS Seal and to check NABP’s list of accredited sites on the AWARXE website. In addition, NABP has executed a contract with the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers to be the registry operator of the new .pharmacy generic Top-Level Domain that will offer consumers a means for identifying safe, legitimate online pharmacies and resources.