What Do Rat Poison, Drywall, and Glue Have in Common?

By on March 3, 2015
online pharmacy services

By Dr. Catizone –

They have been used as filler ingredients in some medications sold through rogue online pharmacies. The National Association of Boards of Pharmacy® (NABP®) has reviewed more than 10,900 websites for patient safety and pharmacy practice standards and only about 4% of websites meet those standards. These numbers show that most online pharmacies are rogue. The potential dangers of buying prescription medications online are many: counterfeit medications, overdose, prescription misuse, identity theft, and injury to the health of you or a loved one.

Real or Fake?

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It is very difficult to tell the difference between real or counterfeit medication without testing the contents of the medicine. Rogue websites may supply medications that look just like the real thing: similar in size, shape, and design. Some counterfeit medications even have fake branded blister packs! You could be receiving medication with too much, too little, or no medication at all; not to mention the dangerous filler ingredients that can lead to a trip to the hospital or worse.

It can be hard to tell who is running a website. If you do not see an address and phone number available to contact, you could be dealing with a rogue website. A licensed pharmacist should be available to speak with or communicate with securely online; do not be fooled by websites that only offer an email address as a means of communication. Wouldn’t you be shocked if you stopped into your local pharmacy and a pharmacist was not available to talk to you about your questions or concerns? Oftentimes, the lack of contact information can also point to a company that is operating outside of the country and therefore not adhering to state and federal pharmacy laws.

No Prescription Needed

A valid prescription is not required by 88% of online pharmacies that have been found to be rogue. Websites that do not ask for a prescription or ask you to fill out a questionnaire in lieu of a prescription should be avoided. Cutting doctors out of the equation by providing a prescription without a visit to a physician could lead to many problems, including an overdose or prescription drug interaction. There are many factors that go into prescribing a medication, including symptoms that you may be physically exhibiting, your medical history, and medication allergies. An unlicensed person at the other end of a computer will not know – or may not care – about this information and your illness could go untreated or be exacerbated.

Watch Your Wallet

Rogue online pharmacies can affect your financial health as well. If you trust that a rogue website is secure, you could be putting your credit card and other personal information at risk. Rogue websites are also known to enroll customers in pricey refill scams that charge monthly for medications that you don’t need. You may not realize what has happened if you are not diligent in checking your credit card statements.

Pharmacy: Leading the Charge in Online Patient Safety

Given the issues surrounding the large number of rogue online pharmacies and the hazards that they cause to public health, NABP wanted to find a way to enhance patient safety online. NABP became the registry for .pharmacy, a new Top-Level Domain (TLD), like .com or .org, to provide consumers around the world with a means for easily identifying safe online pharmacies. As the official registry for .pharmacy, NABP will only grant the use of .pharmacy to legitimate website operators that adhere to pharmacy laws in the jurisdictions in which they are based and in which their patients and customers reside.

Soon you will have the reassurance of knowing that when you see a URL ending in .pharmacy, you are shopping at a safe online pharmacy. In addition to online pharmacies, websites providing pharmacy-related information will be eligible for the new .pharmacy TLD. NABP will thoroughly review these sites as well.

The first set of .pharmacy URLs will go live starting March 17, 2015, so be on the lookout and remember the warning signs of rogue online pharmacies in the meantime. Stay safe!

To learn more about the safe acquisition of prescription medication online, visit www.safe.pharmacy.


Dr. Catizone is the Executive Director of the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy® (NABP®) and the Secretary of the Association’s Executive Committee. NABP is an international organization whose membership includes the state boards of pharmacy in all 50 United States, the District of Columbia, Guam, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, Australia, New Zealand, and eight provincial

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What Do Rat Poison, Drywall, and Glue Have in Common?