The National Association of Boards of Pharmacy (NABP) has applied to the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) to own and operate the new .pharmacy generic top-level domain (gTLD).

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NABP applies for .pharmacy web domain

June 12th, 2012

MOUNT PROSPECT, Ill. – The National Association of Boards of Pharmacy (NABP) has applied to the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) to own and operate the new .pharmacy generic top-level domain (gTLD).

Citing the proliferation of illicit websites selling prescription drugs, NABP said Tuesday that its application for the web domain, done in support with a global coalition of stakeholders, aims to establish the .pharmacy online space as a secure, trustworthy destination where consumers can be sure the medications they buy are authentic and safe.

NABP has applied for .pharmacy as a community-based application representing legitimate online pharmacies and prescription drug-related organizations worldwide. NABP noted that by filing the application, the association and the coalition want to ensure that the domain name won't be exploited by a third party for commercial reasons.

Only legitimate website operators that adhere to pharmacy laws in the jurisdictions in which they're based and sell medicine will be able to register domain names in .pharmacy, NABP said.

"The .pharmacy registry will help us to further protect patients who choose to purchase medications online," NABP president Michael Burleson said in a statement. "We will do this by vetting all registrants prior to acceptance so as to ensure that they meet all applicable regulatory standards, including pharmacy licensure, drug authenticity and valid prescription requirements.

"NABP is uniquely positioned to accomplish this due to its long history of protecting patients from illegal pharmacies through its VIPPS [Verified Internet Pharmacy Practice Sites] accreditation program, which has been accrediting online pharmacies since 1999," Burleson added. "Additionally, through its Internet Drug Outlet Identification program, NABP has reviewed more than 9,800 Web sites selling prescription drugs to determine if they are operating legitimately. A list of the 'Not Recommended' sites, as well as a list of VIPPS pharmacies, is available for consumers to review and make an educated choice about where they can safely purchase their medications."

The association said that as of June 1, it had reviewed 9,837 Internet drug outlets selling prescription drugs and found 9,509 websites — 97% of the total number of sites reviewed — to be out of compliance with U.S. pharmacy laws and practice standards. Of the 9,509 sites identified as "Not Recommended," almost half offer foreign or non-FDA-approved drugs, and many distribute counterfeit medications.

Plans call for NABP and the coalition to launch a public awareness campaign leveraging its AWARxE consumer protection program to educate consumers about the dangers of buying medicine from unknown sources over the Internet and to help build their trust in .pharmacy sites.

NABP applied for the .pharmacy domain as a representative of the global pharmacy community, which includes independent pharmacies, chain drug stores, Internet pharmacies, schools and colleges of pharmacy, patient advocacy groups, pharmaceutical manufacturers, and wholesale distributors of prescription medications.

Among the coalition of stakeholders behind this initiative, NABP said, are the Alliance for Safe Online Pharmacies, Eli Lilly and Co., the European Alliance for Access to Safe Medicines, Gilead Sciences Inc., the International Pharmaceutical Federation, Janssen Pharmaceuticals Inc., Merck/MSD, the National Association of Pharmacy Regulatory Authorities and the state boards of pharmacy.