The Partnership for Safe Medicines (PSM) applauds the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) pilot program established this week to curb unapproved opioids illegally available online by potentially suspending or blocking offending domain names.

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Still from May 13 Covidscams VIdeo

As we’ve focused these last few weeks on COVID-19 scams related to medicine and medical supplies, however, another population of scammers has been exploiting Americans. This week we’re calling out financially-focused covidscams, which comprise a large part of the $13.4 million that U.S. citizens have lost to fraud since the beginning of the year.

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WHOIS data is searchable registrar information available for all websites on the Internet. It has long been used to trace criminal websites that host counterfeit and illicit drug sales, human trafficking, child pornography, and illicit and copyrighted content, as well as the websites of spammers, denial-of-services and phishing attackers, and other fraudsters.

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In light of the threat of illegal online pharmacies, the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy (NABP) announced their application to the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) to own and operate a secure and vetted .PHARMACY domain for licensed Internet pharmacies.

The April 2013 report from the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy (NABP) illustrates the patient safety threat from illegal online pharmacies by showing that of more than 10,000 Web sites they analyzed, nearly 97% operate out of compliance with pharmacy laws and practice standards established in the US. To combat that threat, they have announced their application to ICANN for .PHARMACY, which will be available only to legally operating online pharmacies, who follow the rules and regulations in the jurisdictions in which they are based.

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The National Association of Boards of Pharmacy has released year end data on safe online pharmacies showing the rise of the “affiliate network.”

While the number of legitimate online pharmacies safe for Americans remains at 4% of all, the growth of fake online pharmacies out of compliance with U.S. pharmacy laws and practice standards appears to be strongly linked to the spread of underlying source organizations called “affiliate networks” that proliferate the internet with copies of their websites.

The NABP has published a report, “Internet Drug Outlet Identification Program Progress Report for State and Federal Regulators: January 2012” which identifies 8,456 so-called online pharmacies that are out of compliance with U.S. pharmacy laws and practice standards. Of those, 8,265 appear to be network affiliated, 98%.

The NABP staff identified websites that use the same phone number, physical address, domain name registrant, website design or web business name as those being part of a rogue affiliate network. A rogue affiliate network is a group of internet drug outlets operated by one organization, which are frequently operated outside of the U.S.

“The common perception in America is that a discount retailer out there on the internet can, because of lower costs of business elsewhere, provide medication at below U.S. market rates. What they don’t know is that the medications are all coming from the same counterfeiters in India and China, and that a giant conglomerate of organized crime runs these hundreds of millions of websites that advertise as if they were ‘mom and pop’ small pharmacies on the internet,” said Carmen Catizone, NABP’s Executive Director.

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A company that has registered 8 percent of the world’s website domain names has been accused of registering about one-third of all the world’s illegal online pharmacies’ websites. Critics are calling on Demand Media to end its registration of illegal online pharmacies, as well as saying it should stop some of its other controversial activities,…

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