The National Association of Boards of Pharmacy® (NABP®) today issued a report about the importance of collaboration among members of the international pharmacy community to protect patients worldwide from dangers posed by illegal online drug sellers. As described in the Internet Drug Outlet Identification Program Progress Report for State and Federal Regulators: October 2012, global cooperation from public and private organizations has resulted in the shutdown of thousands of Web sites selling prescription drugs illegally.
NABP continues to review and monitor Web sites selling prescription drugs and its findings are also presented in the report released today – of more than 10,000 Web sites analyzed, nearly 97% operate out of compliance with pharmacy laws and practice standards established in the United States, and many other developed countries, to protect public health. Such sites provide an outlet for counterfeit medicines to enter the US drug supply, endangering the health and safety of Americans.
The report provides an overview of recent collaborative efforts – both public and private – that have occurred over the last six months. Such efforts include:
- Operation Pangea, which included 100 countries and resulted in thousands of illegal sites being shut down.
- An investigation by LegitScript.com, which gave NABP and other stakeholders the necessary proof to persuade a domain name registrar to suspend approximately 5,000 rogue Web sites and to modify its policies to prevent such abuses in the future.
- Collaboration with Canadian regulators to extend the VIPPS® (Verified Internet Pharmacy Practice SitesCM) accreditation program to include Canadian-based Web sites selling Health Canada-approved medications to consumers in Canada.
- NABP’s application, which is supported by a global coalition of stakeholders, to be the registry for the new .PHARMACY domain.
- A meeting hosted by NABP with China’s State Food and Drug Administration to discuss pharmacy prescription drug regulation, especially as it relates to the Internet and illegal online drug sellers.
As indicated in the report released today, NABP has reviewed more than 10,000 Web sites and the vast majority of sites (97%) were found to be operating out of compliance with US pharmacy laws and are listed as Not Recommended on NABP’s consumer protection Web site, www.AWARErx.org. The 9,830 Internet drug outlets currently listed as Not Recommended are characterized as follows:
- 9,543 appear to be affiliated with a network that obtains drugs from questionable sources
- 4,832 offer foreign or non-Food and Drug Administration-approved drugs
- 8,594 do not require a valid prescription
- 2,274 have a physical address located outside of the US (most rogue sites post no address whatsoever)
- 3,708 have server locations in foreign countries
To help consumers find the safest sources for purchasing medicine online, NABP developed the VIPPS accreditation program. Consumers should look for the VIPPS Seal on an accredited site, or check NABP’s database on its consumer protection Web site, www.AWARErx.org. As part of its continued efforts to combat these rogue sites, NABP and the state boards of pharmacy are stepping up their efforts to educate the public through the AWARxE® Consumer Protection Program. The AWARxE Web site provides information on safely obtaining medications and includes updated news, tips, information, and links to relevant NABP resources.
For the full report with detailed findings on the characteristics of rogue Web sites, visit www.AWARErx.org/get-informed/safe-acquisition/not-recommended-sites.
NABP is the independent, international, and impartial Association that assists its state member boards and jurisdictions in developing, implementing, and enforcing uniform standards for the purpose of protecting the public health.