MOUNT PROSPECT, Ill. — Rogue online pharmacies are exploiting the belief among many Americans that Canadian pharmacies provide safe medication at a lower cost, according to a National Association of Boards of Pharmacy (NABP) report.
NABP said Monday that it reviewed 108 pharmacy websites that used “Canada” or “Canadian” in their name or URL, or posted a Canadian contact address, and found that 74% source drugs from countries outside of Canada. None of the websites required a valid prescription.
What’s more, NABP said, half of the so-called Canadian pharmacy websites source drugs from India or a combination of countries where counterfeit products are known to originate. Another 20% dispense drugs from unspecified foreign locations.
“Sourcing medications from countries without stringent regulation and oversight exposes patients to medications that are not approved by Food and Drug Administration or Health Canada,” NABP stated. “The risk that these imported drugs are counterfeit, contaminated or subpotent is high, and quality assurance is a major concern.”
The Internet Drug Outlet Identification Program Progress Report for State and Federal Regulators: August 2017 comes amid discussions on proposed legislation that would allow U.S. consumers to legally import prescription drugs from Canadian pharmacy sites, NABP noted.
“Without a tightly regulated international supply chain in place, it will be difficult to shield consumers from the risks associated with this type of policy,” the association explained. “Canada would continue to be an intermediate shipment point for unapproved medications. Neither Canada nor the U.S. are in a position to set up the appropriate inspection programs, as stated in the report.”
Last year, NABP partnered with Canada’s National Association of Pharmacy Regulatory Authorities to validate online pharmacies located or doing business in Canada. The agreement was formed as part of the .Pharmacy Verified Websites Program, designed to help consumers identify safe, lawful online pharmacies.
NABP added that the “Canadian” websites in the study are among the approximately 11,700 websites selling prescription medications that the association has reviewed in the last nine years. Of those sites, 96% were found to be operating illegally. A list of safe online pharmacies can be found on the Buying Safely page of Safe.pharmacy.