In December 2009, the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy (NABP) announced that it had reviewed over 5,200 web sites selling prescription medications. Of these sites reviewed, 96% were out of compliance with U.S. pharmacy laws and practice standards.
The NABP web site lists over 5,000 “Not Recommended” sites. It is eye opening to read the reports and to learn why sites are on this list. Among the problems that the NABP found were:
- More than 75% (for over 4,000 different medications) dispensed drugs without a valid prescription
- More than 50% (for over 2,500 different medications) will accept a completed brief online questionnaire instead of a prescription. In these cases therefore, there was no patient-practitioner relationship and no physical examination.
- Nearly 25% of the sites had physical addresses that were outside of the United States
- Nearly 50% did not provide any physical address at all.
- The World Health Organization estimates that more than half of all medicines from these sites without an address may be counterfeit.
- Nearly 50% of the sites sell foreign-manufactured medications or medications that have not been approved for sale in the United States.
- Nearly 20% of the sites do not have appropriate security to protect the safety of patients’ personal and financial information.
Does this mean you should never buy your medications from a web site? The answer is no, as the NABP website also lists the sites (a very small number) that have successfully met all of the standards of their evaluation.
Buying medication over the Internet can be convenient and a good value, but only if you are using a qualified site.
Information about sites that meet these standards is available in the Internet Pharmacies section of the NABP website.