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NABP: Online drug sellers shirk U.S. Rx laws
April 25th, 2012
MOUNT PROSPECT, Ill. – Well over 90% of Internet drug outlets don't comply with U.S. pharmacy laws, in turn driving prescription drug abuse and misuse and facilitating the entry of counterfeit medications into the U.S. drug supply, a study by the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy (NABP) found.
In a report released Tuesday, NABP revealed that 96% of the 9,677 drug seller websites analyzed evade U.S. pharmacy regulations, endangering the health and safety of Americans.
These rogue Internet drug outlets, NABP noted, are preying on consumer fears about drug shortages — primarily cancer, antibiotic, nutrition and electrolyte-imbalance medicines — and enabling counterfeiters to exploit a lucrative niche market for fake prescription drugs.
For example, NABP has identified several rogue drug sites affiliated with the counterfeit Avastin scheme that sell unapproved medications from numerous foreign sources to American patients without a valid prescription. The association also has found that these illicit drug sellers are taking advantage of consumers' concern over prescription drug shortages to spread misinformation and sell counterfeit and substandard drugs — such as erectile dysfunction medications, many of which are knockoffs of legitimate brands – that aren't in short supply.
"The problems of prescription drug shortages, gray market wholesalers and illegal online drug sellers are intertwined," NABP president Malcolm Broussard said in a statement. "Patients and health care providers must be educated about which medications are in short supply and how to distinguish legitimate sources from conniving frauds."
Other key findings of the NABP report, titled "Internet Drug Outlet Identification Program Progress Report for State and Federal Regulators: April 2012," included the following:
• 9,062 of the 9,677 websites examined (94%) appear to be affiliated with a network.
• 8,122 of the websites (84%) don't require a valid prescription.
• 4,648 (48%) offer foreign or non-Food and Drug Administration-approved drugs.
• 2,211 (23%) have a physical address located outside of the United States.
• 3,363 (35%) have server locations in other countries.
"NABP continues to encourage new methods and partnerships among state boards of pharmacy, federal regulators, and other public and private stakeholders to protect the public health and educate the public about counterfeit drugs and other potential dangers of buying medication from unknown and unapproved sources over the Internet," Broussard added.
To help consumers find safe sources for purchasing medicine online safely, NABP developed the VIPPS (Verified Internet Pharmacy Practice Sites) accreditation program. The association recommends that consumers look for the VIPPS Seal on an accredited site or check its database on its consumer protection website AWARErx.org. NABP publishes on its site and on AWARErx.org the Not Recommended List, which lists Internet drug outlets that appear to be out of compliance with state and federal laws or NABP patient safety and pharmacy practice standards.