The National Association of Boards of Pharmacy (NABP) has been cleared to enter contract negotiations with the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) to own and operate the .pharmacy domain suffix.


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NABP makes strides with .pharmacy domain

February 26th, 2014

MOUNT PROSPECT, Ill. – The National Association of Boards of Pharmacy (NABP) has been cleared to enter contract negotiations with the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) to own and operate the .pharmacy domain suffix.

NABP said Tuesday that reaching an agreement with ICANN will be a key step in bringing the .pharmacy generic Top-Level Domain (gTLD) from concept to the Internet, providing consumers worldwide with an easy way to identify safe online pharmacies and resources.

The .pharmacy gTLD will be available only to legitimate online pharmacies and related entities located in the United States or other countries, NABP said, adding that its registry agreement with ICANN will include safeguards to protect consumers and public health.

NABP's .pharmacy proposal passed ICANN's initial evaluation last May. The .pharmacy proposal, developed with a global coalition of stakeholders, addresses a concern about illegal online drug sellers distributing products that endanger patient health. In its application to ICANN, NABP stressed the need to ensure that only legitimate website operators that adhere to pharmacy laws in the jurisdictions in which they are based and to which they sell medicine will be able to register domain names in .pharmacy.

NABP noted that its proposed criteria for .pharmacy registrants are consistent with safeguards recently defined by the ICANN Government Advisory Committee (GAC) and now required of all new gTLDs within highly regulated industries. The GAC safeguards address consumer protection, security, and privacy concerns and will be addressed in the Registry Agreement.

For example, NABP said that as the registry operator, it will require that registrars approved to sell .pharmacy domain names notify registrants, such as Internet pharmacies, that they must comply with all applicable laws, and provide proof that they are licensed to operate a pharmacy and to practice pharmacy.

"With the association's mission to protect public health at the core of the .pharmacy proposal, NABP is pleased to move the project forward by entering into the contracting phase with ICANN," NABP president Karen Ryle said in a statement. "Once the program is operational, consumers and patients around the world will benefit by knowing that .pharmacy equals safe and vetted online pharmacies and resources."

The next steps in the process include performance of pre-delegation testing, which ensures that NABP and its technical partners can operate the new .pharmacy gTLD in a stable and secure manner. Additionally, as the registry operator, NABP will contract with registrars that agree to ensure compliance with the established .pharmacy standards.

Stakeholders behind the .pharmacy initiative include the Alliance for Safe Online Pharmacies, Eli Lilly, the European Alliance for Access to Safe Medicines, Gilead Sciences, the International Pharmaceutical Federation, Interpol, Janssen Pharmaceuticals, LegitScript, Merck/MSD, the National Association of Pharmacy Regulatory Authorities, Pfizer and state boards of pharmacy.

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