New NABP report, more of the same scare tactics

The National Association of Boards of Pharmacy has come out with yet another progress report on their Internet Drug Outlet Identification Program. In it, they justify their control over the .pharmacy Top-Level Domain (TLD) and contend it’s a “public health initiative to help consumers distinguish legitimate online pharmacies from rogue online drug sellers.”

In reality, they’re using the same old scare tactics and biased information to demonize all international online pharmacies and gain dominion over them—and Big Pharma is footing the bill. Eli Lilly and Merck are top contributors, they have each given $100,000 or more to help secure the TLD.

While it’s certainly true that there are rogue entities out there posing as pharmacies and selling counterfeit drugs, it’s also true that legitimate international online pharmacies exist. And nearly 5 million Americans per year depend on them to access authentic medicine at prices they can afford.

The NABP “Not Recommended” list consists of quite a few rogue entities but it also includes online pharmacies that are verified for safety by organizations we trust, like and the Canadian International Pharmacy Association.

How does one end up on the “Not Recommended” list? There are a number of reasons. Some we agree with and some we don’t.

We agree with NABP that sites should be on the list if they:

  • Do not require a prescription
  • Do not have a secure, encrypted website (to protect patient confidentiality and privacy, as well as to ensure safe credit card payments)
  • Dispense controlled substances
  • Are affiliated with rogue networks of Internet drug outlets

We do not agree with NABP that sites should be on the list if they:

  • Are not “ domiciled in the United States”
  • Have a non-U.S.-based web server
  • Sell “foreign or non-FDA approved medications”

While the last point above seems like a legitimate concern, virtually all medications sold by licensed Canadian and other foreign pharmacies would be considered “non-FDA approved medications.” That doesn’t mean the prescription drugs aren’t authentic, safe and effective.

The “Not Recommended” list is informing the .pharmacy initiative, which has begun accepting applications. In the report, it’s noted that “NABP will grant use of the .pharmacy domain only to legitimate website operators that adhere to pharmacy laws in the jurisdictions in which they are based and in which their patients and customers reside, so that consumers can easily find safe online pharmacies.”

Obviously, we think pharmacies should abide by the pharmacy laws of their home countries. But under current U.S. law, importation is not legal. So it’s not possible for pharmacies to adhere to regulations in both their home jurisdictions AND in the U.S. If .pharmacy is held up as the standard for online pharmacy safety and is administered by a group that is adamantly opposed to importation, Americans will be getting biased information that leads them to U.S.-based pharmacies that do not offer the same dramatic savings as what can be achieved through personal importation.

We believe consumers deserve accurate information. We believe they can be trusted to make good decisions when they have the facts. A true public health initiative would not scare patients away from legitimate pharmacies offering safe and affordable medicine.

We feature tips on our website regarding how to choose a safe online pharmacy.

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