As antibiotic sales soar in relation to public fears about anthrax and other bioterrorism threats, the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy ®(NABP®) cautions consumers to buy only from pharmacies they know and trust. NABP urges those purchasing their pharmaceuticals online to look for the VIPPS™ seal, which certifies that the pharmacy is properly licensed with the appropriate state boards of pharmacy and has met a rigorous criteria review that considers patient confidentiality, authenticity and validity of prescriptions, a quality assurance program, and patient-pharmacist consultation.
NABP, through its Verified Internet Pharmacy Practice Sites™ (VIPPS) program, works with state and federal agencies to monitor and close down unlicensed sites. While there have been numerous successes, a number of rogue sites remain, safely operating outside the United States and beyond the reach of US regulatory efforts.
"The protections offered by the Internet often serve to cloak the identity and origin of many online pharmacy sites, making it almost impossible for the consumer to determine where their drugs originate," says NABP President Richard K. "Mick" Markuson. "While it is not our intention to panic anyone, it does not seem wise in these treacherous times to risk purchasing drugs from an unknown source."
VIPPS-certified sites may be identified by the VIPPS hyperlink seal of approval on their Web sites. By clicking on the VIPPS seal, consumers are able to find the verified information they need to make informed decisions regarding their choice of online pharmacies. Consumers may also access the VIPPS database directly via NABP's Web site at www.nabp.net.
Participation in the VIPPS; certification program is voluntary. The program was developed to provide consumers with a reliable means to identify those online pharmacies that have proven their preparedness to meet the unique challenges of the practice of pharmacy via the Internet.