NABP Stresses Need for Accountability in Enforcing Internet Policies to Protect the Public From Illegal Online Drug Sellers

NABP logo[news release] Today (31/7), the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy (NABP) in the US issued a report urging greater accountability by the stakeholders charged with ensuring that action is taken against websites illegally selling medications online. As detailed in the Internet Drug Outlet Identification Program Progress Report for State and Federal Regulators: July 2015, thousands of websites illegally distribute medications and avoid retribution.
Such sites often distribute dangerous counterfeit drugs, putting at risk the health of the consumers who use them. Many of these rogue sites use domain names obtained from a small number of registrars who turn a blind eye to their illegal activity. The report highlights the need for the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) and domain name registrars – the stakeholders responsible for facilitating the use of Internet domain names – to enforce policies forbidding illegal use of websites and to take more accountability for shutting down rogue sites.As noted in the report, NABP holds online drug sellers accountable to the laws and standards that govern pharmacy practice and, since 2008, the Association has been collecting data on websites selling medicine illegally online to United States patients. NABP has reviewed over 11,000 Internet drug outlets, finding that 96.13% of the sites reviewed operate out of compliance with US pharmacy laws and practice standards, and identifying these sites as “Not Recommended.” Approximately 85% of Not Recommended sites are selling prescription drugs without requiring a valid prescription. Nearly 50% offer drugs that are either foreign, or not approved by the US Food and Drug Administration. Further, of the 10,588 Not Recommended sites, 87% can be traced to affiliate networks of rogue Internet drug outlets.Websites illegally selling drugs to patients in the US and in other countries hide behind the anonymity of the Internet, and in the gray areas between enforcement boundaries where the question of who should take responsibility for enforcing Internet policies goes unanswered. Many stakeholders, however, believe that domain name registrars and ICANN could play a greater role in protecting consumers. Registrars can make an impact by fulfilling their responsibility to shut down domains that are being used for illegal activities, and ICANN can hold registrars accountable for meeting this obligation.

The risk to public health posed by these illegally operating sites was the impetus for NABP launching the global .Pharmacy Top-Level Domain (TLD) Program. Only legitimate Internet pharmacies and pharmacy-related websites will qualify for .pharmacy domains, giving consumers worldwide a way to distinguish safe and legal online pharmacies and resources from rogue sites. NABP began accepting applications for .pharmacy domain names in late 2014. General availability, when any entity with a pharmacy or pharmacy-related website may apply and, if approved, register for a .pharmacy domain name, began on June 3, 2015. More information about the .pharmacy TLD, including a list of approved entities with registered .pharmacy domain names, is available at

For the full report with detailed findings on the characteristics of rogue websites and the list of Not Recommended sites, visit

This NABP news release was sourced from: