The US National Association of Boards of Pharmacy (NABP) issued a report this week discussing the continued need to fight against illegal online drug sellers, as they contribute to the America’s prescription opioid epidemic.
As noted in the Internet Drug Outlet Identification Program Progress Report for State and Federal Regulators: January 2016, the total number of websites classified as Not Recommended by NABP has grown to 10,668 due to the fact that the websites are selling prescription medications out of compliance with US state and federal laws and/or NABP patient safety and pharmacy practice standards. The Association has been collecting data on websites selling medicine in the United States since 2008.
The need to educate consumers about the dangers of purchasing prescription drugs without a valid prescription is growing. Prescription opioid pain relievers are involved in more overdose deaths than any other opioid overdose deaths, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In addition, prescription drugs remain common drugs of abuse. A recent study showed that Twitter, which is used by a third of teenagers and young adults, has become a popular way for rogue online drug sellers to share links to their websites. A significant percentage of the youth population has used prescription drugs non-medically, thus the Twitter connection is worrisome.
Of the more than 10,668 Internet drug outlets identified by NABP as Not Recommended, just over 60% do not have a location posted on the website. It is important to note that many rogue pharmacies that do not post an address sell potentially dangerous counterfeit medications. More than 50% of rogue websites offer drugs that are either foreign or not approved by the US Food and Drug Administration. Further, 90% appear to have affiliations with rogue networks of Internet drug outlets.
NABP strives to uphold the integrity of the practice of pharmacy – in any practice setting – to ensure that patients worldwide have access to safe and effective prescription drugs. The Association’s .Pharmacy Top-Level Domain (TLD) Program shows NABP’s commitment to making it easy for consumers to identify safe, legitimate online pharmacies. Simply looking at online drug seller websites and seeing .pharmacy will confirm that the information on the website is valid.
Unlike a .com, only legitimate Internet pharmacies and pharmacy-related websites qualify for .pharmacy domains. As of December 31, 2015, NABP has granted approval for 351 domain names and 230 have been registered, including such high-profile pharmacies as CVS, Express Scripts, PetMed Express, Target, and Rite-Aid. The .pharmacy registered domains are made up of 185 pharmacies, 33 boards of pharmacy and regulatory agencies, six resource sites, four manufacturers, and two professional sites.
More information about the .pharmacy TLD, including a list of approved entities with registered .pharmacy domain names, is available at www.safe.pharmacy.
For the full report with detailed findings on the characteristics of rogue websites and the list of Not Recommended sites, visit the Acquire Safely section of www.AWARErx.pharmacy.