Rogue drug sellers or online pharmacies?

online shopping danger: hands, laptop, credit card

A public health initiative to help consumers distinguish legitimate online pharmacies from rogue online drug sellers is being launched in the US by the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy (NABP).

NABP has just published the Internet Drug Outlet Identification Program Progress report for state and federal regulators detailing that the two most common characteristics of rogue drug sellers are: dispensing prescription drugs without a valid prescription, and offering foreign and unapproved drugs.

NABP reviewed nearly 11,000 internet drug outlets, finding that 96.3% (10,521) of the sites reviewed operate out of compliance with US pharmacy laws and practice standards. During that time period, the average percentage of “not recommended” sites selling drugs without a prescription was 93.4%.

Current data shows that more than 62% of “not recommended” sites do not post a physical address. These sites tend to be the ones most likely to dispense counterfeit drugs.

Further, of the 10,521 “not recommended” sites, 91% appear to have affiliations with rogue networks of internet drug outlets, and 12% dispense controlled substances.

NABP says the frequency of such characteristics among online drug sellers poses a danger to public health, creating a need for consumer education and resources to help identify safe online pharmacies.

Such factors undermine regulations put in place to safeguard the drug supply chain, highlighting the need for the .pharmacy domain.

NABP is accepting applications for .pharmacy domain names and general availability will open for eligible pharmacy community members on 3 June this year. Only legitimate internet pharmacies and related entities will qualify for .pharmacy domains, giving consumers a way to distinguish safe and legal online pharmacies and resources from rogue sites.

The full report with detailed findings on the characteristics of rogue websites and the list of Not Recommended sites are here.

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