U.S., Canadian Groups Establish Certification Program for Online Pharmacies
U.S. and Canadian professional pharmacy associations have established an online pharmacy certification program that "purposely will exclude" Canadian pharmacies that ship drugs to the United States, the Wall Street Journal reports. The new program -- Verified Internet Pharmacy Practice Sites -- will be administered by the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy and Canada's National Association of Pharmacy Regulatory Authorities. Its goal is to inform U.S. consumers "of the illegality of importing drugs" from Canada, according to NABP Executive Director Carmen Catizone (Bialik, Wall Street Journal, 11/13). Several Canadian pharmacies are generating business by offering drastic savings through Internet sales, even though drug reimportation is technically prohibited by the FDA. The agency's rules on the issue state that in almost all cases, only a drug maker can import drugs, although the policy in practice is much murkier. FDA officials say those who purchase prescription drugs at Canadian pharmacies are taking a risk because the medicines are not under the FDA's purview, and therefore the agency cannot guarantee their safety (Wall Street Journal, 10/22). Catizone said, "We want to highlight that U.S. citizens shouldn't be buying from these pharmacies," adding that he is aware that those in "dire need" will continue to purchase their prescription drugs from Canadian pharmacies. "We're targeting people who are undecided and people who were frequenting those sites without knowing they were doing something illegal." The Journal notes that some groups advocating Canadian pharmacies that export to the United States have established alternate means of oversight, claiming to "help U.S. drug buyers sort out the good Canadian Web pharmacies from the bad" (Wall Street Journal, 11/13).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.