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How to Shut Down Dangerous Rogue Online Pharmacies without Curtailing Online Access to Safe and Affordable Medication

There are potentially tens of thousands of dangerous pharmacy websites, sometimes referred to as “rogue online pharmacies,” polluting the Internet and endangering the health of consumers worldwide. There are a much smaller group of safe domestic online pharmacies. Then there are an even smaller group of safe international online pharmacies, ones that we have verified, that sell many medications at much lower cost. However, when Americans purchase from these international online pharmacies (often because they can’t afford medication domestically) and import safe and effective medications, they are under most circumstances violating U.S. laws, which poses a quandary for regulators, public health officials, and even some people working over at Big Pharma. What’s right and wrong? How do we get rid of the rogues without overreaching and endangering public health by stopping Americans from obtaining safe medication internationally over the Internet?

In our continuing quest to get the truth out and for our elected leaders in Congress to take bold action to protect online access to safe and affordable medication, we’re publishing the next section of our report called Online Pharmacies, Personal Drug Importation, and Public Health

(more…)

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“RxRights Responds to Washington Post Article” – As Featured on RxRights.org

Today we’d like to feature content from our ally RxRights.org, a non-profit group dedicated to protecting access to safe and affordable personal drug importation through verified online pharmacies:

Lee Graczyk, RxRights lead organizer, felt compelled to respond to a recent Washington Post editorial about the problem of Internet piracy and the legislation that has been crafted to address it. Though we have not had much luck getting the Post to publish Lee’s responses in the past, he
continues to try, and wanted to share his latest effort.

The Post editorial board was on target in stating that the Stop Online Piracy Act’s (SOPA) definition of a rogue site is dangerously overbroad and could threaten legitimate Web sites [“A fair block on Internet piracy” editorial, Jan. 3.] Its explanation, however, could go further to discuss the implications SOPA would have on Americans who import their medications from legitimate pharmacies.
Hundreds of thousands of Americans–90,000 people in Florida alone–rely on ordering vital prescription medications from safe, licensed Canadian and other international pharmacies, mostly due to the exorbitant costs of prescription drugs in the U.S. If passed, SOPA would take away Americans’ access to these pharmacies. This is because the bill inappropriately groups together real pharmacies–licensed, legitimate pharmacies that require a doctor’s prescription and sell brand-name medications–and the rogues that sell everything from diluted or counterfeit medicine to narcotics without a prescription.
As legislators continue to move forward with SOPA, as well as its Senate counterpart, the PROTECT IP Act, they should recognize this is not only an Internet infrastructure and security matter, but also a grave health concern.

 

This article can also be found on RxRights.org. PharmacyChecker.com is an RxRights coalition member.

 

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Google Online Pharmacy Settlement With DOJ Hurts American Patients, According to AEI Scholar

Last week, Roger Bate, an economist and expert in counterfeit drugs with the American Enterprise Institute, wrote an article called “Google’s Ad Freedom Wrongly Curtailed.” Bate’s piece shows how banning safe foreign online pharmacies from advertising on Google and elsewhere is not only unethical but will lead to sub-optimal health outcomes. As we wrote at the end of August, the non-prosecution agreement between the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) and Google, in which the search engine was fined $500 million for allowing rouge Canadian sites to advertise controlled substances, is good because it forces Google to now block dangerous rogue online pharmacies from advertising. At the same time, however, it’s bad because it appears to prevent Google from allowing safe and affordable Canadian-based online pharmacies form advertising as well.

The DOJ/Google settlement appears to reflect the false rhetoric espoused by the U.S. government and pharmaceutical industry that only U.S. online pharmacies can be safe. Bate knows this is not true based on his own empirical studies, which found that properly credentialed non-U.S. online pharmacies sell genuine medication at a lower cost and require a prescription.  By blocking safe Canadian pharmacies from advertising to Americans on Google, it is more difficult for needy Americans to find them. Bate writes:

Google’s current policy removes the potentially lethal sellers, but by disallowing credentialed foreign sites from advertising it will harm public health. The tens of millions of uninsured Americans who cannot afford their drugs will go online to circumvent this obstruction. If they are unaware of pharmacychecker.com’s credentialing, they will play Russian roulette and may end up buying a lethal product.

With media outlets and politicians inundated with a voracious pharmaceutical industry public relations assault that seeks to paint all non-U.S. online pharmacies as rogue, the victim here is the American seeking affordable medication online because he or she can’t afford it here at home. Bate wrote: “What is surprising is that independent groups, like Consumer Reports and AARP, have bought into this industry rhetoric or have failed to properly explain to their members that foreign doesn’t necessarily mean dangerous.” (more…)

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RxRights Finds NABP’s Internet Drug Outlet Identification Program Misleads Consumers about Drug Safety and Personal Drug Importation

A new post on RxRights.org explains how the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy (NABP)’s Internet Drug Outlet Identification Program wrongly misleads consumers and the media by tagging all non-U.S. online pharmacies that sell to Americans as “rogue.” Essentially, that program’s list includes dangerous rogue online pharmacies along with reputable online pharmacies that meet high standards of safety but are simply not based in the United States. American consumers should expect more from pharmacy regulatory authorities and deserve to be properly informed. By adding properly verified international online pharmacies to the list, NABP scares Americans away from safe and affordable sources of medication. RxRight.org alerts the public that NABP’s program was sponsored with a grant from the drug giant Pfizer.

The post also deconstructs the ridiculous notion that only “FDA-approved” drugs are safe.  It explains that the same exact drug purchased from a Canadian pharmacy (or any non-U.S. pharmacy) that is sold in the United States is “Not FDA-approved.” How can that be if it’s the same drug? There are many reasons, but one primary reason is labeling. FDA-approved drugs include approval of the drug’s specific labeling. That means that virtually all drugs sold in Canada that are compositionally identical to those sold in the United States are not “FDA-approved” because their labeling is different (such as including information in French and English), but of course they are equally as safe.

PharmacyChecker.com applauds RxRights.org for exposing misinformation campaigns sponsored by the pharmaceutical industry meant to scare Americans away from safe and affordable online pharmacies, wrongly inform the media, and shape our nation’s laws and regulations.

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Online Pharmacies, the Obama Administration and Public Health

The Obama administration is taking actions to address the illegal sale of counterfeit prescription drugs online. These efforts can benefit patients who could fall victim to rogue online pharmacies, but may also limit access to safe and affordable medication provided by non-U.S. international online pharmacies, many based in Canada. Millions of uninsured and under-insured Americans have purchased prescription drugs through, and relied on, such websites to afford medicine.

Last Monday, the White House Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator (IPEC), Victoria Espinel, stated that her office was in discussions with Google, Go Daddy, American Express, and Microsoft about cracking down on online pharmacies, and that an announcement about IPEC’s plans moving forward will be made within weeks. This statement seems to be a follow-up to a late-September meeting held by IPEC, which brought together domain registrars and registries to discuss voluntary protocols to combat the sale of non-controlled counterfeit medication online. As we reported, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) notably declined its invitation to attend this meeting, and at least one of its attendees, Go Daddy general counsel Christine Jones, as reported on Domain Incite, communicated that intellectual property protection was not discussed and voluntary protocols were not agreed to. Jones also shared her understanding that an “FDA solution” might be used to combat counterfeit drugs being sold online. Espinel’s statement last week suggests the same. (more…)

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