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
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
BeMedWise Program at NeedyMeds encourages healthcare professionals and community groups to foster patient–professional communication about medicines. However, BeMedWise does not supervise or endorse the activities of any group or professional. Discussion and action concerning medicines are solely the responsibility of the patient and their healthcare professionals, and not BeMedWise.
Please consult a licensed health care professional with questions or concerns about your medication and/or condition.