MOUNT PROSPECT, IL – The National Association of Boards of Pharmacy® (NABP®) has released a new report, Disrupting Illegal Online Pharmacies: Lock-and-Suspend as a Tool to Protect Patients, which explores the process and impact of locking and suspending domain names associated with websites that illegally sell prescription medications online. The report explains how lock-and-suspend directly impacts patient safety, concluding that the domain name system is the right place to mandate action against illegal online pharmacies.
In the report, NABP argues that lock-and-suspend, when used at scale, frustrates the operations of organized criminal networks that operate thousands of illegal online pharmacies. When a domain name is suspended, financial transactions facilitated by the domain name stop suddenly, and any email addresses associated with the domain name cease to function. And, more importantly, patient safety is directly impacted, as consumers can no longer access the website using the domain name. Further, when a domain name is locked, it cannot be transferred to another domain name registrar.
Most illegal online pharmacies belong to organized criminal networks. These illegal actors oversee thousands of related websites. If a few network sites are taken offline, it causes minimal disruption because the network has thousands of backups. However, when a significant number of a criminal network’s domain names are suspended and locked, the network can no longer fund its operation, and it collapses. Lock-and-suspend, when used at scale, can serve as a powerful and unique choke point to stop illegal online pharmacies.
For the past decade, industry experts have consistently estimated that, at any given time, there are between 30,000 and 40,000 active illegal online pharmacies. And while 42% of surveyed Americans report buying drugs online, most continue to be unaware of the prevalence and risks of illegal online pharmacies. In fact, 45% of Americans mistakenly believe that all websites offering prescription medications to Americans have been approved by Food and Drug Administration or state regulators, according to a 2021 survey.
Visit the Resources section of the Association’s website for more Rogue Rx Activity Reports. Consumers can visit www.safe.pharmacy to use the Safe Site Search Tool to help protect themselves when purchasing medicine online. help protect themselves when purchasing medicine online.