Did you know that Internet search engines, such as Google and Yahoo, claim to verify online pharmacies through PharmacyChecker.com? But what good does it do? This site provides little to no security about the legitimacy of Internet drug sellers. Rogue online pharmacies continue to profit from the sale of counterfeit drugs, and at the same time Internet search engines profit from the advertisements on these non-verified pharmacies’ Web sites. Even more alarming is that Internet search engines are in no way held accountable for hosting and profiting off “online pharmacies” who distribute counterfeit drugs.

Did you know that Internet search engines, such as Google and Yahoo, claim to verify online pharmacies through PharmacyChecker.com?  But what good does it do?  This site provides little to no security about the legitimacy of Internet drug sellers.  Rogue online pharmacies continue to profit from the sale of counterfeit drugs, and at the same time Internet search engines profit from the advertisements on these non-verified pharmacies’ Web sites.  Even more alarming is that Internet search engines are in no way held accountable for hosting and profiting off “online pharmacies” who distribute counterfeit drugs. 

While Congress has passed laws to combat selling prescription drugs online without a prescription, they have failed to include penalties for the search engines advertising these illegal operations.  And organizations such as the World Health Organization (WHO), domestic agencies, and law enforcement agencies – who have attempted to increase penalties – are tied down by their lack of regulatory infrastructure and enforcement power. 

An article by the Partnership for Safe Medicines’ vice president Dr. Bryan Liang in this month’s American Journal of Law & Medicine identifies three key ways we can stop “online pharmacies” from peddling their dangerous wares in cyberspace:

  • Illegalizing the sale of drugs via the Internet, unless the online pharmacy is licensed through a national Internet pharmacy licensing program.
  • New legislation to prohibit financial transactions for drug sales of unlicensed online pharmacies and creating criminal penalties for any party, including Web sites and search engines, who engage in illegal sale of contraband or counterfeit drugs.
  • A federal bill that will curb the demand for online prescription drug purchases by offering a nocost/low-cost Drug Access Program.

The Partnership for Safe Medicines (PSM) believes that the standards that govern traditional pharmacies in the United States must be translated to all online drug sellers in order to ensure the safety of consumers.  Learn more about illegal Internet pharmacies and the threats to the safety of our prescription drugs by visiting www.safemedicines.org.