Guest Post: .Pharmacy Domain Signals Safety on the Web
The National Association of Pharmacy Regulatory Authorities (NAPRA) in Canada continues to work with the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy (NABP) in America to verify applicant credentials for the .Pharmacy Verified Websites Program. The .Pharmacy Program enables qualified pharmacies and pharmacy-related businesses to register a domain name ending in the .pharmacy suffix. The .Pharmacy Program helps Canadian consumers seeking drug information and medications online to find a safe site – a daunting task, especially when online drug counterfeiters are so rampant.
Over the last decade, NABP has reviewed 11,873 internet drug outlets and found 95% to be operating out of compliance with United States pharmacy laws and practice standards. Most were not appropriately licensed, were selling drugs without a valid prescription, or were offering unapproved medications that may be substandard or counterfeit.
The .Pharmacy Program strives to provide the public with the tools needed to identify a safe and legitimate website when seeking drug information or purchasing medications online. When consumers and health professionals see the .pharmacy domain at the end of a web address, they’ll know that they can trust the business. Many pharmacies and pharmacy chains in Canada have attained a .pharmacy web address to clearly identify their business as safe and legal. Seals can be copied and pasted to any website, but companies that earn and use the .pharmacy domain for their website display the safety seal directly in the URL.
Companies like Google, Bing, Yahoo!, and Twitter require pharmacies and related entities to obtain a .pharmacy domain before advertising on their platforms. In addition, Visa and MasterCard recognize .pharmacy in their policies for online merchants that accept card-not-present transactions. This is an important development that helps push credible sites to the forefront and protect consumers against rogue or fraudulent websites. Public Service Announcements have been aired in Canada, in both French and English, to raise consumer awareness of the risk associated with unregulated online businesses and the safety associated with web addresses ending in .pharmacy.
By attaining a .pharmacy web address, you will support the patient safety work of NAPRA and NABP to reduce the amount of substandard and counterfeit products that reach patients’ medicine cabinets, which is a problem that continues to affect both Canadian and American consumers.
For more information about the .Pharmacy Program, visit www.nabp.pharmacy/safe.
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Carmen A. Catizone, MS, RPh, DPh
Carmen A. Catizone is the executive director of the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy® (NABP®) and the secretary of the Association’s Executive Committee. NABP is the independent, international, and impartial association that assists its member boards and jurisdictions for the purpose of protecting the public health. Carmen is involved in a variety of leadership roles with several pharmacy organizations. He has also acted as a reviewer on several advisory boards, in addition to providing expert witness testimony and consultation in the areas of pharmacy practice and regulation.