Education and Collaboration Key to Continued Progress in Fighting Rogue Online Prescription Drug Sellers, Reports NABP
January 25, 2013
The National Association of Boards of Pharmacy® (NABP®) today issued a report outlining how continued collaboration among global stakeholders is vital to eliminating the public health threats posed by rogue Internet drug outlets. The Internet Drug Outlet Identification Program Progress Report for State and Federal Regulators: January 2013, details the Association’s five-year progress in providing data on illegal online drug sellers to public agencies and private entities in support of policy efforts to shut down these rogue sites.
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 the NABP Internet Drug Outlet Identification Program’s research and education efforts over the past five years, including efforts to raise awareness about the increased likelihood that drug products purchased online are substandard or counterfeit, and to educate about the danger that Web sites illegally selling prescription drugs, including controlled substances, likely contribute to the prescription drug abuse epidemic in the US.
Significant collaborative and global efforts initiated over the past five years to protect patients from dangerous products distributed by illegal online sellers are also highlighted in the report. Such NABP collaborative efforts include:
- Working with search engines Google, Bing, and Yahoo! to block online advertisements for rogue Internet drug outlets beginning in 2010.
- Participating, with other stakeholders, in a December 2010 White House forum to address the problem of counterfeit medications and their frequent distribution over the Internet.
- Participating in a June 2011 Congressional briefing on rogue Internet drug outlets.
- Applying to the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, with the support of a global coalition of stakeholders, in March 2012 to be the registry operator for the new .PHARMACY domain.
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 9,938 Internet drug outlets currently listed as Not Recommended are characterized as follows:
- 4,839 offer foreign or non-Food and Drug Administration-approved drugs
- 8,701 do not require a valid prescription
- 2,302 have a physical address located outside of the US (most rogue sites post no address whatsoever)
- 1,121 dispense controlled substances
To help consumers find the safest sources for purchasing medicine online, NABP developed the VIPPS® (Verified Internet Pharmacy Practice SitesCM) accreditation program. Consumers are encouraged to 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 initiatives aimed 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 as well as updated news, tips, 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.