Majority of pharmacy websites are non-compliant

Only 3 per cent of internet pharmacy websites are legitimate, meaning those who buy medicines online could be putting themselves at huge risk, a conference in Dublin has heard.

Research presented at the 2013 International Pharmaceutical Federation (FIP) World Congress found the overwhelming majority of websites selling medicines are operating illegally. The US National Association of Boards of Pharmacy (NABP) reviewed 10,533 pharmacy websites and found 10,181 (96.6 per cent) to be in conflict with US pharmacy laws.

Online health
The findings highlight the need for the international pharmacy community to work together to control and regulate the area, Carmen Catizone, executive director of the NABP, told delegates attending a dedicated session on online health.

The NABP is currently working on the development of the .Pharmacy internet domain, to be used by legitimate online pharmacies and prescription drug-related organisations worldwide. The new domain will establish a secure and trustworthy destination where consumers worldwide can be sure the medications they buy online are authentic and safe, and addresses global concern about illegal online drug sellers distributing products that endanger patient health, Dr Catizone said.

The NABP applied to the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) in May to own and operate .Pharmacy, and if its request is granted, the domain could be launched before the end of the year.

Dr Catizone told delegates that the NABP would work co-operatively with regulators and stakeholders worldwide, including Ireland, to maintain internet pharmacy standards under the domain.

Congress delegates raised concern about the ethics of selling medicines at all online, and the potential for abuse of such services. In response, speakers said the online sale of counterfeit medicines was a massive global problem and people would continue to buy medicines online, so regulation was vital in the interests of patients.

In the first six months of this year, more than 670,000 illegal and counterfeit medicines valued at over €2 million were seized in Ireland, according to the Irish Medicines Board.

The FIP congress was attended by more than 3,000 pharmacy and pharmaceutical science delegates from 107 countries across the world. Ireland last hosted the congress in 1975.

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Majority of pharmacy websites are non-compliant
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