NABP Stresses Need for International Collaboration to Combat Online Counterfeit Drug Distribution
July 20, 2012 12:28 PM -- The National Association of Boards of Pharmacy® (NABP®) today issued a report about the continually increasing online counterfeit drug supply and the urgent need for international collaboration among regulators and other public agencies as well as private sector entities. As described in the Internet Drug Outlet Identification Program Progress Report for State and Federal Regulators: July 2012, counterfeit drugs sold online often make their way to unwary consumers through a complex chain of international transactions by multiple parties, and international, public-private collaborative efforts are needed to combat this illegal activity.
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, 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 collaborative strategies from pharmacy experts to stop online counterfeit drug distribution. Public and private sector experts on international health law and global pharmaceutical security assert that rogue online drug sellers work with a network of private sector entities — some legitimate and some rogue – to obtain, market, collect payment for, and distribute drug products that are often counterfeit or substandard. Experts call for public-private partnerships to promote the adoption of effective laws, regulations, and policies addressing all levels of this complex chain, along with effective enforcement efforts. Additionally, consumer education about rogue online drug sites and counterfeit drug dangers is necessary.
NABP is committed to fostering opportunities for international collaboration, and, with the support of the global pharmacy community, NABP has applied for the .pharmacy generic Top-Level Domain which would offer consumers around the globe a trusted means for obtaining the safest medications online. As Internet commerce becomes increasingly commonplace, NABP President Michael A. Burleson, RPh, also expressed the need to raise awareness about counterfeit medicine and rogue online sellers, giving special emphasis to recent endeavors including international pharmacy initiatives and the AWARxE® Consumer Protection Program. President Burleson stated, “Focusing on the topics of safe drug disposal, online pharmacies, and counterfeit drug dangers, AWARxE educates consumers on prescription drug safety.”
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 9,734 Internet drug outlets currently listed as Not Recommended are characterized as follows:
- 9,261 appear to be affiliated with a network that obtains drugs from questionable sources
- 4,828 offer foreign or non-Food and Drug Administration-approved drugs
- 8,497 do not require a valid prescription
- 2,271 have a physical address located outside of the US (most rogue sites post no address whatsoever)
- 3,614 have server locations in foreign countries
To help consumers find the safest sources for purchasing medicine online, NABP developed the VIPPS® (Verified Internet Pharmacy Practice SitesCM) 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/Not_Recommended_Sites.php.