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NEW YORK — An effort to allow trusted online pharmacies to add ".pharmacy" to their URLs cleared a hurdle last week as it passed an initial evaluation by the body that regulates the web address suffixes, known as generic top-level domains.
The National Association of Boards of Pharmacy said passing the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers' initial evaluation was a "key success" and "critical milestone" in creating a way for legitimate online pharmacies to stand out from the large number of illegal ones that have proliferated over the years.
"Passing this hurdle in the .pharmacy application process is a significant success in NABP's initiative to establish a safe online space that will benefit patients and the healthcare community around the world," NABP president Karen Ryle said. "With the online distribution of counterfeit and substandard medications posing a growing threat to consumers, NABP is extremely pleased to move forward with its plans for the .pharmacy [generic top-level domain.]"
Rogue internet pharmacies have become a growing problem as many patients in the United States, seeking a bargain on prescription drugs, order their medications from them. The pharmacies are known to go to great lengths to disguise themselves as Canadian or American, but are often operated from countries with lax regulations, creating the risk that their drugs may be counterfeit, adulterated, expired or contaminated. A January review by the NABP of 10,275 online pharmacies found that 97% of them were out of compliance with U.S. laws. Of the 9,938 identified as "non-recommended," nearly half offered drugs to U.S. residents that were foreign or not approved by the Food and Drug Administration, as well as selling dangerous counterfeit drugs.
The NABP said the next step will include execution of the registry agreement with ICANN and performance of pre-delegation testing to ensure that the pharmacy group and its partners can operate the .pharmacy domain in a stable and secure manner. The NABP plans to launch the domain by the end of this year.