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NABP applauds Google requirements for online Rx advertisers

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MOUNT PROSPECT, Ill. — The National Association of Boards of Pharmacy has commended Web search and services giant Google for requiring online pharmacy advertisers to show Verified Internet Pharmacy Practice Sites (VIPPS) accreditation.

NABP said this week that the accreditation requirement will make it more difficult for "rogue" Internet drug outlets to advertise to unsuspecting consumers. The new restrictions affect Web sites selling prescription drugs that are seeking to advertise in the United States through Google AdWords.

"For too long, rogue Web sites posing as legitimate pharmacies have continued, unabated, to peddle substandard, tainted and counterfeit drugs to unwitting patients," NABP President Gary Schnabel said in a statement. "Google’s policy change is a major step toward ridding the Internet of these operations, and we applaud Google’s commitment to patient safety."

Google announced Tuesday in its Inside AdWords blog that the company will accept ads only from U.S. online pharmacies accredited through the NABP’s VIPPS program and from Internet pharmacies in Canada accredited by the Canadian International Pharmacy Association (CIPA), NABP said. The revised policy enables online pharmacies to target ads only to patients in the country in which the pharmacies are accredited.

According to the NABP, the AdWords blog said that when the policy change goes into effect this month, ads for Internet drug outlets not accredited by VIPPS or CIPA will no longer appear in Google’s sponsored search results.

In study findings released in late December, NABP reported that of the more than 5,000 online drug outlets that it has reviewed, 96% appear to be out of compliance with pharmacy laws and practice standards. The association noted that these sites dispense dangerous prescription drugs to patients without a valid prescription or medical oversight, and the medications are often unapproved for sale in the United States or any other developed nation and are often substandard, contaminated or counterfeit.

Recently, pharmacy industry groups and government authorities have stepped up their efforts to combat rogue Internet pharmacies. In November, the Food and Drug Administration took action to crack down on rogue online pharmacies as part of a global initiative to curb illegal activity involving medical products. The FDA’s move was praised by the National Association of Chain Drug Stores.


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