MOUNT PROSPECT, Ill. — Amid various strategies adopted to stop the proliferation of rogue online pharmacies, one group has proposed controlling what they can put at the end of their Web addresses.
The National Association of Boards of Pharmacies said it would create a generic top-level domain, .pharmacy, that only legitimate online pharmacies could use. Top-level domains are the suffixes at the end of Web addresses that determine what type of organization owns the site, such as .com for commercial enterprises, .org for non-profit groups, .gov for government agencies and so forth.
The NABP said it had formed partnerships with international regulators, pharmacy organizations and law enforcement organizations in the effort. The group said it applied for the .pharmacy domain in June of last year and submitted its application as part of ICANN's expansion of available domains. It expects ICANN's review process for the domain to be released by this summer.
"The ultimate benefactors of NABP's vision for this new [generic top-level domain] will be the healthcare community and patients worldwide, who will be assured that all pharmacy sites ending in the .pharmacy gLTD are safe and legitimate," NABP president Michael Burleson said. "By vetting .pharmacy registrants for compliance with international standards, NABP seeks to protect patients worldwide from the health risks that can result when drug sellers circumvent supply-chain safeguards."
Rogue internet pharmacies have become a growing problem as many patients in the United States, seeking a bargain on prescription drugs, will order their medications from them. The pharmacies will go to great lengths to disguise themselves as Canadian or American, but are often operated from countries with lax regulations. The problem is that the drugs they sell may be counterfeit, adulterated, expired or contaminated. A January review by the NABP of 10,275 online pharmacies found that 97% of them were out of compliance with U.S. laws. Of the 9,938 identified as "non-recommended," nearly half offered drugs to U.S. residents that were foreign or not approved by the Food and Drug Administration, as well as selling dangerous counterfeit drugs.