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A Brief History of Online Pharmacy Regulations

On February 10, 2010, Google announced the elimination of PharmacyChecker.com as a certifying authority for U.S and Canadian online pharmacies – a major departure from its previous policy. Its advertising program AdWords now accepts advertising from an online pharmacy in the U.S. only if it has been verified by Verified Internet Pharmacy Practice Sites (VIPPS). This move by Google is a significant step towards curbing the sale of counterfeit drugs sold via the Internet. Follow our timeline to learn how the threat of illegal online pharmacies has evolved over that past six years.

While SAFEMEDICINES applauds Google’s measures; unfortunately, this is only the first of many steps in the direction of online pharmacy safety. Legislation is essential to legally prohibiting financial transactions of unlicensed pharmacies and creating criminal penalties for Web sites. Until Congress addresses this important issue, PSM continues to encourage consumers to look for VIPPS accreditation of online pharmacies when purchasing prescription drugs online.

2004

Because of Congressional concerns over counterfeit drugs being sold by illegitimate online pharmacies, the major online search engines select Pharmacy Checker.com to verify the validity of online pharmacies as a result of Congress’ concern over counterfeit drugs being sold by illegitimate online pharmacies.

2005

A FDA operation reveals many drugs promoted online as “Canadian” are counterfeit and actually originate from other countries.

2006

To protect American from counterfeit drugs, the FDA announces new measures that emphasize certain regulatory actions and the use of new technologies for safeguarding the integrity of the U.S. drug supply.

FDA warns consumers not to buy or use prescription drugs from various Canadian Web sites that apparently sell counterfeit products.

2007

FDA warns consumers about counterfeit drugs from multiple Internet sellers.

2008

Ryan Haight Online Consumer Protection Act of 2008 passes in Congress, banning online pharmacies from the sale of controlled substances based on online patient consultations.

2009

PSM Board Member Bryan A. Liang discusses problems with PharmacyChecker.com in the article “Searching for Safety: Addressing Search Engine, Website, and Provider Accountability for Illicit Online Drug Sales.”

Report from LegitScript and KnujOn found that 80 to 90 percent of search engine-sponsored advertisements of online drug pharmacies (verified by PharmacyChecker.com) violate federal and state laws.

PSM scrutinizes Google, Yahoo, and Bing for supporting illegal online drug sales.

2010

Google announces updated U.S. and Canada pharmacy policy and removes PharmacyChecker.com as a certifying authority for online pharmacies.