Rogue Internet Drug Outlets Continue Little Change Since Last NABP Report

The National Association of Boards of Pharmacy® (NABP®) released a position paper examining the lawlessness of Web sites selling prescription medicine over the Internet. “To see why this ‘wild west’ of an electronic marketplace is a problem, one need only follow the trail of dead and injured patients,” the paper asserts. The report calls to task the various parties whose activities allow this trend to continue and challenges lawmakers and regulators to rein in this dangerous underground marketplace. In the document, NABP revisits the call to action of its 2003 “Position Paper on the Importation of Foreign Prescription Drugs,” which states that “[p]urchasing medications from unknown and illegal sources via the Internet and other means is compromising the US medication distribution system and making US citizens vulnerable to bioterrorism attacks.” The 2009 position paper notes that little has changed in the six years since NABP last examined it and clearly elucidates the laws and practice standards pertaining to the dispensing of prescription medicine and poses the question, “so then why, out of 1,351 Internet drug outlets assessed by NABP as of January 2009, do 1,183 (88%) of them continue, unhindered, to offer prescription drugs without a valid prescription?” The paper goes on to identify several avenues through which rogue Internet drug outlets continue to skirt the laws established to protect patient health and safety. An alarming number of Internet drug outlets advertising on search engines flagrantly offer prescription medicine, including controlled substances, without a valid prescription and evidence of a face-to-face physical examination. NABP also points out the untrustworthiness of supposedly safe foreign Internet drug outlets. “Many sites purporting to be Canadian pharmacies, for instance, sell medications that are not approved under Canadian regulations, and many have no discernable ties to Canada whatsoever,” the paper states. NABP further calls attention to the unreliability of Web site domain name registration information and the lack of accountability of the registrars and Internet service providers that sell and host these illegally operating Web sites. The paper also implicates the credit card companies that process financial transactions involving illegal sales of prescription medicines. The current position paper, like its 2003 precursor, calls on lawmakers, regulators, and others in a position to safeguard the public health to curtail the illegal sales of prescription medicine online. As consumer use of Internet drug outlets grows exponentially and has shifted to purchasing controlled substances, NABP foresees the possibility of “a complete compromise of the US drug distribution system, and subsequent patient injury or death” and stresses the urgency to address the problem.
http://www.nabp.net/ftpfiles/NABP01/State_Internetpp09.pdf