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Larissa Doucette

Google now recognizes the .pharmacy Top-Level Domain (TLD) as meeting requirements for pharmacies and related entities to advertise online. Since 2010, Google has allowed pharmacies or other prescription drug-related entities to advertise online in the United States and Canada only if they are accredited or approved by NABP. As of mid-October 2016, Google advertising policies relating to health care and medicines specifically reference the .pharmacy TLD as meeting its requirements. Google restricts the promotion of online pharmacies in recognition of the fact that many websites selling prescription drugs do so illegally. Consumers and search engine companies alike can be sure that the medications and pharmacy-related services and information they obtain online from websites using a .pharmacy domain name are safe and legitimate.

Merchants that have a .pharmacy domain name are automatically recognized by Visa, Inc, as legitimate businesses. Visa indicates in its June 2016 Online Pharmacy Guide for Acquirers that merchants may not facilitate the sale of drugs in violation of applicable laws and must maintain a valid certification, such as through NABP’s .Pharmacy TLD Program. Websites with a .pharmacy domain name have been vetted and approved by NABP and are monitored on an ongoing basis to ensure their continued compliance with pharmacy laws and program standards. “Visa encourages acquiring banks and [independent sales organizations] to require pharmacies to obtain and use a .PHARMACY domain name,” the guide states. Online drug sellers that are not certified may not be permitted to use Visa for financial transactions.