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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As a licensed pharmacist, I’m all too familiar with patients’ difficulties getting medications they need and their physician has prescribed. As baby boomers age, pharmacists see more patients at our counters unable to obtain needed treatments for heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, and other chronic illnesses. This issue is now being acknowledged and a healthy debate has begun over possible solutions. But one idea policymakers shouldn’t pursue is opening up our country’s secure drug supply to medicines coming from outside our borders.

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On October 13, a USA Today article featured a report released from the antivirus company McAfee. They found that 70 percent of spam in September was from websites advertizing “Canadian pharmaceuticals.” Further, the only thing that made it “Canadian” was the word Canadian and the maple leaves on the spammers’ web page. The increase in counterfeit drug spam may be due to the rising fears surrounding H1N1 flu, as well as the intensity around the topic of healthcare costs.

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On October 12, The Foundation Chirac, a long-time champion of access to safe medicines in African countries, is hosting a meeting in Cotonou, Benin, to discuss the counterfeit drugs that plague African citizens.

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The Partnership for Safe Medicines, a group of organizations and individuals dedicated to protecting consumers from counterfeit medicines, issued the following statement regarding recent reports released by LegitScript, an online pharmacy verification service, and KnujOn,an Internet compliance company, which found that 80 to 90 percent of search engine-sponsored advertisements of online drug pharmacies violate federal and state laws, including selling substandard or counterfeit drugs to unsuspecting consumers.

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