Defending consumer rights to affordable medication on the Internet (left to right: Gabriel Levitt, Jeremy Malcom, Andrew Goldman, Burcu Kilic, Paul Zickler)
Access to medicines and Internet rights advocates came together yesterday for a panel at the RightsCon conference in Brussels, Belgium, to discuss the importance of, and threats to, online access to safe and affordable medication. In my capacities as president of PharmacyChecker.com and founder of Prescription Justice, I submitted the concept for this panel to RightsCon, a conference that focuses on issues relating to human rights and the Internet, such as freedom of expression, curbing violent extremism, and privacy and data protection.
The panel included Jeremy Malcolm, Electronic Frontier Foundation; Andrew Goldman, Knowledge Ecology International; Burcu Kilic, Public Citizen; Paul Zickler, Canadian International Pharmacy Association, and Gabriel Levitt. We came together to push back against the pharmaceutical industry’s attempts to control what is and is not permissible on the Internet when it comes to medication sales and the importation of prescription drugs for personal use.
My presentation’s focus was on the tens of millions of Americans who are struggling to afford medication and how the Internet provides them with access to lower cost medication imported for personal use. I will follow-up with a more detailed report on the panel discussions and a workshop that followed, where we drafted a Statement of Principles for the online sale of medication, one inspired by the belief that access to affordable medications is an essential component to the fundamental human right to health.
Tagged with: CIPA, Electronic Frontier Foundation, Knowledge Ecology International, Public Citizen, Rightscon
Stay safe while shopping for affordable medications online
Americans sometimes want to know if rogue online pharmacies, especially foreign ones, REALLY sell bad medication or if it’s just one big conspiracy by the evil pharmaceutical industry to scare Americans away from saving a lot of money. Well, as critical of big pharma’s efforts to scare consumers away from lower cost and safe medication as I have been, the answer is, REALLY, yes. The dangers of buying a fake or otherwise harmful medication online from a foreign or domestic source, or even a real medication when you are not under the supervision of your healthcare provider, are real and serious.
What we know better than most is that consumers, empowered with the right information, can pay a lot less for medication by shopping online, internationally, and also avoid rogue online pharmacies. The right online pharmacy can save a person’s life and their finances because it sells safe medication at much lower cost than a local pharmacy – but the wrong online pharmacy could kill you.
We’ve updated our website’s content about rogue online pharmacies to better inform consumers, healthcare providers, and regulators who want to avoid such sites and teach others how to do so as well. We do give a list of rogue online pharmacies but it is far from comprehensive. Other companies and organizations spend a lot of effort compiling lists and identifying rogue online pharmacy sites (with tens of thousands of websites, many defunct): PharmacyChecker.com is in the business of verifying and identifying the safest and most affordable online pharmacies, not listing the thousands of rogue ones.
As we explain in the updated section of our website, when looking to buy meds online, the best way to avoid a rogue online pharmacy is to stick with websites approved by PharmacyChecker.com and other noted certification and verification organizations, specifically the National Association of Boards of Pharmacies (NABP), LegitScript, and the Canadian International Pharmacy Association (CIPA). NABP’s VIPPS and LegitScript’s verification program validate safe and legal online pharmacies, but in a variety of ways wrongly conflate rogue sites with safe international online pharmacies, which can actually mislead consumers (see Rx Rights’ report on NABP and Techdirt’s description of LegitScript’s practices). That’s where the pharmaceutical industry conspiracy stuff comes in! CIPA’s online pharmacy standards are similar to, but not the same as, PharmacyChecker.com’s, and many of their members are also approved in our program – but we can’t vouch for those that are not. Regardless of the differences, all of us want to see consumers avoid dangerous drug-selling websites – often referred to as rogue online pharmacies – and some of us also want to maximize your online access to safe and affordable medication!
Photo Credit: © Peterhermesfurian | Dreamstime.com – Poison Pill Package Skull Photo
Tagged with: Big Pharma, CIPA, LegitScript, NABP, VIPPS
Jump to Comparison Table: Online Pharmacy Verification Services
It is important that you understand the differences among the groups that rate and verify online pharmacies. It’s not only essential to know what credentials each verifies, but the mission and focus of each group. To help, we put together the comparison table below, focusing on topics that should be of interest to the 120,000,000 Americans who struggle to afford their prescription drug bill and are searching online for savings (see Drug Prices SOS for more on this national emergency).
Perhaps the biggest difference that you’ll notice among the groups is that PharmacyChecker.com is the only one to include pharmacies from the U.S. as well as from Canada and select other countries. The Canadian International Pharmacy Association (CIPA) only accepts Canadian-based pharmacies. The Verified Internet Pharmacy Practice Sites (VIPPS) program, run by the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy (NABP), and LegitScript, a private verification service, exclude affordable Canadian pharmacies and others outside the US and exclusively approve U.S. pharmacies.
Tagged with: CIPA, LegitScript.com, Online Pharmacy Verification Services, VIPPS