prescriptions online: a safe bet?|
Regulations and certifications
Internet pharmacies actually based in the United States are usually
online outposts of chain drugstores or online pharmacies that dispense
only popular drugs, according to Levitt.
Usually the foreign market of choice for U.S. consumers, Canadian pharmacies are
regulated in a similar fashion to U.S. pharmacies.
Mexican market is far less developed and regulated than either the
U.S. or Canadian markets, and while U.S. consumers can access drugs
more cheaply, and in many cases without a prescription, there are
no guarantees about the quality of the drugs you're getting, Levitt
Britain, Australia, Israel,
Europe, India and New Zealand: Strong
regulation exists in these countries, with standards for drugs,
drug distribution and pharmacies.
Regulation and oversight varies tremendously from country to country.
While importing drugs -- even for personal use --
is technically illegal, in practice the U.S. government doesn't
stop such importation, which is why busloads of U.S. citizens continue
to cross the borders between the United States and Canada or Mexico
and come home with shopping bags full of their prescription drugs.
Here's a rundown on locations:
The Federal Drug Administration, or FDA, regulates drug approval
and manufacturing in the United States. While the FDA isn't perfect
-- witness the Vioxx scandal and attendant lawsuits -- it still
requires rigorous testing, an application process and review of
drugs before they make it to market, as well as a review at the
time the drugs are manufactured.
The FDA must approve prescription drugs sold in the
United States, though individuals importing drugs from other countries
for personal use aren't usually sanctioned. Individual pharmacies
are regulated by state pharmacy boards, which also license pharmacists.
The National Association of Boards of Pharmacy, or NABP, certifies
Internet pharmacies through its Verified Internet Pharmacy Practice
Site program, or VIPPS. In order to become certified, an online
- Submit a detailed application,
including licensure information;
- Host a site visit from a National Association of
Boards of Pharmacy team;
- Pass a rigorous review of its policies, sales practices,
Web site and application performed by the same team.
Once an Internet pharmacy is certified, it can display
the VIPPS seal. Unfortunately, some pharmacies have displayed this
certification without actually receiving it, so when you see the
seal, click on it to make sure it is legitimate. When you click
on it, you should go to the VIPPS Web site where you can confirm
that the pharmacy is indeed certified. This program only covers
U.S. pharmacies. To find a VIPPS pharmacy, go to: www.nabp.net/vipps/intro.asp.
includes data showing whether a pharmacy is VIPPS certified, as
well as price comparisons and a rating. Pharmacy Checker also includes
foreign Internet pharmacies in its database.
The Internet and Mail Order Pharmacy Accreditation
Commission certifies international online and mail-order pharmacies
through a similar process to VIPPS. To access a list of certified
pharmacies, go to: www.impacsurvey.org.
Canadian pharmacies that sell prescription drugs over the Internet
are certified by the Canadian International Pharmacy Association.
For a list of members, go to www.ciparx.ca.