- Who regulates pharmacy websites?
- Can I get really cheap prices from pharmacies outside the US?
- What is wrong with using just any pharmacy website to buy cheaper medicine?
- What are the signs of a suspiciously operating pharmacy?
- What if I believe that an online pharmacy may be operating suspiciously?
- How are international pharmacy websites regulated?
- How do pharmacy websites verify prescriptions?
- Who do I contact about the status of my application?
- What can I expect during the on-site survey?
- What happens after the on-site survey?
- What is NABP’s role in regulating pharmacies?
- Why should a legitimate pharmacy want accreditation?
- What if I only want a .pharmacy domain and not VIPPS accreditation?
- If I already have a .pharmacy domain, why should I also get VIPPS accreditation?
- What is an e-Profile ID and how do I obtain one?
- Is an e-Profile ID required for accreditation or verification through NABP?
- How can I confirm if I (or my facility) already have an e-Profile ID?
1. Who regulates pharmacy websites?
State boards of pharmacy are primarily responsible for regulating pharmacy websites within their jurisdictions. Only individual state boards of pharmacy and state boards of medicine have authority to discipline or revoke a license.
Federal agencies such as FDA and DEA partner s with these boards when applicable; however, FDA mainly regulates foreign-based sites and practitioners.
NABP does not regulate pharmacy websites, but it passes on reports of suspicious activity to the appropriate regulatory body. To report such activity, you may fill out our “Report a Suspicious Internet Pharmacy Site” form or contact your state board of pharmacy directly.
2. Can I get really cheap prices from pharmacies outside the US?
First, FDA generally prohibits the importation of foreign-made versions of prescription medications that are commercially available in the US. The safety and efficacy of these medications cannot be guaranteed. Many countries’ drug research and control programs are not as safety-oriented as those in the US. Though some of the drugs advertised by foreign sites may be manufactured by the same name brand international drug manufacturer as you are used to, they usually are not manufactured in FDA-inspected facilities that have met FDA standards. Further, sometimes the medications have been subjected to storage conditions that compromised their potency or safety.
3. What is wrong with using just any pharmacy website to buy cheaper medicine?
First, FDA restricts the distribution of certain drugs to a prescription-only basis because in certain medical situations they can be dangerous if not taken with ongoing medical consultation. Most regulatory authorities and professional organizations regard online prescribing to be unprofessional, and in some states it is illegal, unless it is done pursuant to a valid, ongoing patient-prescriber relationship that has included an in-person physical examination. Completing only an online questionnaire does not establish a valid patient-prescriber relationship. Moreover, without a physical examination you could receive inappropriate medication and worsen an underlying, undiagnosed, serious medical condition.
As for false claims of increased privacy and confidentiality, evidence appears to indicate that illegitimate prescribing sites frequently sell their customer lists to other illegitimate online pharmacy operators and owners of internet scam and pornography sites. By purchasing drugs from an illegitimate site, you may be designating yourself as someone who is a good target for rip-off schemes.
Frequently, deceived consumers notify us of non-receipt of medications they ordered and/or credit card charges that illegitimately operating pharmacies refuse to remove. Many also complain that they are unable to contact the pharmacies: phone lines are disconnected or no one answers
4. What are the signs of a suspiciously operating pharmacy?
Learning the signs that point to suspect pharmacies can help you protect yourself from rogue internet sites. One sign is dispensing prescription medications without requiring a prescription. Another red flag that you’ve encountered a rogue internet drug outlet is if the site doesn’t list a phone number or street address. You can learn about other warning signs on NABP’s .Pharmacy Verified Websites Program website.
5. What if I believe that a pharmacy website may be operating suspiciously?
Please report suspiciously operating pharmacies to NABP. You may do so anonymously. We also encourage you to report such sites to your local state board of pharmacy, especially if you or a loved one has been harmed. NABP forwards information regarding suspiciously operating sites to the most appropriate regulatory authorities.
6. How are international pharmacy websites regulated?
Online sites located outside the US pose the greatest challenges for state and federal regulators. Cooperation with other nations and their regulatory agencies has been and continues to be the key to regulating online international pharmacy sites. NABP is working with a number of international regulatory agencies to establish the .Pharmacy Verified Websites Program for their pharmacy websites.
7. How do pharmacy websites verify prescriptions?
Generally, state laws require faxed prescriptions to be received directly from the prescriber (not the patient) to be valid. Online sites that do not protect the integrity of the original prescription, or that do not verify the authenticity of suspect prescriptions, may be in violation of the law. In addition, VIPPS-accredited pharmacies and those that have been granted a .pharmacy domain must have policies and procedures in place that address these issues. Before you entrust your health to anyone online, look for the VIPPS Seal or .pharmacy in the URL.
For VIPPS Applicants
1. Who do I contact about the status of my application?
2. What can I expect during the on-site survey?
A survey will be scheduled at an agreed-upon date. It will focus on compliance with the VIPPS Criteria, federal and state rules and laws, and implementation of the pharmacy’s approved policies and procedures. An NABP surveyor will typically be at the pharmacy for a full day, interviewing personnel, reviewing pharmacy records/documents, and touring the pharmacy.
3. What happens after the on-site survey?
The pharmacy will receive a letter outlining the findings of the survey, identifying any areas of non-compliance with the VIPPS Criteria, and will be given an opportunity to correct them. Facilities are given 30 calendar days for any needed remediation.
4. What is NABP’s role in regulating pharmacies?
NABP does not regulate pharmacies, but it supports the state boards of pharmacy that do. We administer the competency examinations that state boards require for pharmacist licensure and many boards rely on our accreditation programs to verify that suppliers or online pharmacies with multiple licenses are operating safely and legitimately in the jurisdictions where they do business.
5. Why should a legitimate pharmacy want accreditation?
For one, they will not be able to advertise with Google, Yahoo!, and Bing, because these search engines require NABP accreditation to do so. Also, Visa recognizes companies with accreditation as legitimate pharmacy merchants. And finally, securing VIPPS accreditation allows legitimate pharmacies to gain additional credibility and consumer trust through linking with NABP, which has protected the public health since 1904.
6. What if I only want a .pharmacy domain and not VIPPS accreditation?
If you only want a .pharmacy domain, you are not required to have VIPPS accreditation. Visit the Apply page of safe.pharmacy to learn more.
7. If I already have a .pharmacy domain, why should I also get VIPPS accreditation?
When VIPPS launched in 1999, it was the first of its kind to face a new type of threat the world had never seen before – websites selling fake and dangerous medicines. VIPPS accreditation shows that your company takes customer safety seriously with rigorous reviews of policies and procedures and an on-site survey necessary for accreditation. VIPPS is a great choice for your pharmacy and website if you only do business in the United States, hold several licenses throughout the country, and are looking to advertise online through major search engines. VIPPS is also recognized or required by over 20 state boards of pharmacy and credit card companies requiring validation for certain pharmacy transactions.
NABP e-Profile Assistance
1. What is an e-Profile ID and how do I obtain one?
The NABP e-Profile ID is the unique identifier that pharmacists, pharmacy technicians, pharmacy students, and other individuals receive when they create an NABP e-Profile account through the Association’s online registration system. The NABP e-Profile system allows individuals to easily manage their participation in NABP programs including tracking continuing pharmacy education through CPE Monitor, examination registration and score results, licensure transfer, and publication ordering. If you need any of these services, you may create your NABP e-Profile.
If you are only creating an e-Profile because your company is seeking an accreditation or verification, select CPE Monitor in the profile creation process. You will not be obligated to go past the security question screens on the profile creation page, but you will receive an e-Profile ID. However, if you are an individual that must earn CPE to satisfy license or registration requirements, you must continue on to the CPE Monitor section of the NABP e-Profile system if you want to ensure that you are fully registered in the CPE Monitor program.
2. Is an e-Profile ID required for accreditation or verification through NABP?
Yes. NABP now requires pharmacists involved in any of its accreditation or verification programs, including those associated with accredited businesses undergoing renewal, reaccreditation, or reverification, to have an e-Profile ID. If you have not done so already, you can sign up for an NABP e-Profile account.
Additionally, NABP is in the process of assigning e-Profile IDs to facilities. While most facilities do not yet possess an e-Profile ID, soon it will be a requirement for those involved in any NABP program. If your facility has had a VPP inspection, you already have an e-Profile ID assigned to it and you may contact VPP staff via email at VPP@nabp.pharmacy for more information.
3. How can I confirm if I (or my facility) already have an e-Profile ID?
If you are a pharmacist, a pharmacy technician, pharmacy student, or other individual, you can use the “Forgot username?” or “Forgot Password?” links on the NABP e-Profile page to recover your account log in information if you have one.
Unless your facility has been VPP inspected or has interfaced with NABP through some other NABP-sponsored program, it is unlikely it will have its own NABP e-Profile ID. If your facility has been VPP inspected, you may contact VPP@nabp.pharmacy for more information.