Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Well Done, NABP!

Last week, the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy (NABP) named 79 online pharmacies that are not safe for patients. Rather than a general “watch out” message, the NABP actually listed the web addresses for these rogue sources.

Kudos to for naming names! I hope the NABP has a good firewall to repel the disgruntled spammers.

According to NABP, a site got on the bad guy list for one of the following three illegal activities:

  • Does not require a valid prescription (71 sites)
  • Foreign or non-FDA-approved drugs (35 sites)
  • A physical address outside of the US (36 sites)

NABP has accredited 15 legitimate online pharmacies though the Verified Internet Pharmacy Practice Sites™ (VIPPS®) program. In contrast, the 79 non-recommended sites are non-accredited through the Fake Online Outlets League™ (FOOL®) program. (NABP doesn’t seem to allow direct links. Go to NABP and click “Internet Pharmacies” to find the list.)


In this recent Drug Safety Hub post, Allen Coukell, Director of Policy and Strategic Communications for the Pew Charitable Trust-funded Prescription Project, implied that the dangers of counterfeiting were scare tactics. He asked: “If you were an uninsured patient unable to afford medication in the US, would you rather get your prescription filled in a Canadian pharmacy or go without?”

If those are the only choices, you should go without. Primum non nocere. (“First, do no harm.”)

I find it incredible that a health professional such as Mr. Coukell would encourage personal importation via an online pharmacy given the risks.

Judging by his biography, Allen appears to be a Canadian pharmacist by training. So he should know that many so-called Canadian pharmacies are not actually in Canada. In fact, twenty-two of the sites on the NABP list have “Canada” in the company name.

Let’s face it -- People often buy online from unscrupulous sellers to get access to drugs they shouldn’t be getting anyway. Just visit the pain pill addicts at They’ll tell you how to buy anything online, no questions asked.

Organized criminals, drug traffickers and terrorists could (and probably do) exploit gaps in our drug distribution system. I wish it were only fear-mongering and scare tactics, but unfortunately the risks are real.

P.S. Happy 100th birthday, Ian Fleming!


  1. AnonymousMay 28, 2008

    Way to go!
    Had a very similar discussion over dinner last night. The other party had no idea that the source of the products was suspect and could be coming from anywhere. They only saw the $.
    Keep up your efforts.

  2. AnonymousMay 28, 2008

    FOOL -- love it!

    I saw the p.s. - so do you think Blofeld is behind FOOL?

  3. AnonymousJune 04, 2008

    Really? So, if we follow your Primum non nocere doctrine, then what do we do regarding this:

    Like to know how you answer this...

    Best regards,

    PS. I am NOT a proponent of natural products or anything like that - I am just against liars and hypocrites that push their OWN agenda!

  4. Sorry, I really have no idea what you are saying about my "agenda."

    Your link points to a study saying that there were 9,856 fatal prescription errors in 1998. I note that there were 2,481,000,000 prescriptions dispensed in 1998. I did not read the full article, but is it fair to compute a morbidity & mortality rate of 0.0004% due to error?

    BTW, I wrote about this issue in The Dark Side of Pharmacy Efficiency.


  5. I agree that there is a very serious safety issue with online meds.
    But rather than trying to stop the public from access to less expensive drugs wouldn't it be better to get more Canadian pharmacies to meet the NABP requirements?
    There has to be a way to stop the price gouging of the elderly in the US.
    I'm 62 and disabled. My Medicare Drug Coverage now requires me to pay full price.
    I'm not eligible for any other assistance because my wife works. We fall into the same crack in the floor as so many others do.
    If I don't buy from Canada then I don't get my meds.
    Perhaps we could stop baby sitting the drug manufacturers and start making drugs attainable online from safe sites.

  6. You have a terrific point, sir. I recently read a post on about the nabp. In their list of 'non recommended' pharmacy sites, there are websites that I have ordered from. Like you, I am unemployed with no insurance. If I don't order from Canada, I don't get my medication.
    It is either time to make it easier for the public to buy from Canada OR start regulating the insane prices we have to pay domestically.
    In addition, the medication I bought from Canada was EXACTLY the same as the medication I bought here. The only difference was the price.