The Partnership for Safe Medicines
Weekly Update April 5, 2010
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A Brief History of Online Pharmacy Restrictions

On February 10, Google announced the elimination of as a certifying authority for U.S and Canadian online pharmacies - a major departure from its previous policy. Its advertising program AdWords now accepts advertising from an online pharmacy only if it has been verified by Verified Internet Pharmacy Practice Sites (VIPPS) or the Certified Canadian International Pharmacy (CIPA). This move by Google is a significant step towards curbing the sale of counterfeit drugs sold via the Internet. Follow our timeline to learn how the threat of illegal online pharmacies has evolved over that past six years.

While PSM applauds Google's measures; unfortunately, this is only the first of many steps in the direction of online pharmacy safety. Legislation is essential to legally prohibiting financial transactions of unlicensed pharmacies and creating criminal penalties for Web sites. Until Congress addresses this important issue, PSM continues to encourage consumers to look for VIPPS accreditation of online pharmacies when purchasing prescription drugs online.


Because of Congressional concerns over counterfeit drugs being sold by illegitimate online pharmacies, the major online search engines select Pharmacy to verify the validity of online pharmacies as a result of Congress' concern over counterfeit drugs being sold by illegitimate online pharmacies.


A FDA operation reveals many drugs promoted online as "Canadian" are counterfeit and actually originate from other countries.


To protect American from counterfeit drugs, the FDA announces new measures that emphasize certain regulatory actions and the use of new technologies for safeguarding the integrity of the U.S. drug supply.

FDA warns consumers not to buy or use prescription drugs from various Canadian Web sites that apparently sell counterfeit products.


FDA warns consumers about counterfeit drugs from multiple Internet sellers.


Ryan Haight Online Consumer Protection Act of 2008 passes in Congress, banning online pharmacies from the sale of controlled substances based on online patient consultations.


PSM Board Member Bryan A. Liang discusses problems with in the article "Searching for Safety: Addressing Search Engine, Website, and Provider Accountability for Illicit Online Drug Sales."

Report from LegitScript and KnujOn found that 80 to 90 percent of search engine-sponsored advertisements of online drug pharmacies (verified by violate federal and state laws.

PSM scrutinizes Google, Yahoo, and Bing for supporting illegal online drug sales.


Google announces updated U.S. and Canada pharmacy policy and removes as a certifying authority for online pharmacies.

Top News

US: Chinese National Arrested for Selling Counterfeit Diet Drugs


A Chinese national has been arrested in Hawaii and is being held on charges that he manufactured and imported counterfeit weight-loss drugs with ingredients that could cause headaches, anxiety and other side effects. Federal officials state that Sengyang Zhou traveled from China to Hawaii to meet with people interested in distributing his dugs, which included fake versions of the weight-loss drug Alli, in the United States. One man who had been taking Alli switched to a cheaper version sold online by Mr. Zhou and began suffering headaches, chills and heart-attack-like symptoms. ("Charges in Scheme to Sell Fake Drugs," The New York Times, March 25, 2010; Story here)

World News

Canada: Officials Pinpoint Canadian Resident in Counterfeit Cancer Drug Scam


Officials believe an Edmonton man is behind an online scam to sell counterfeit cancer drugs to patients around the world. The U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation has already charged 21-year-old Hazim Gaber with wire fraud for his alleged role in selling the experimental cancer drug dichloroacetate (DCA) directly to patients. According to officials, the drugs were counterfeit. Edmonton police initiated an investigation after a local woman reported that her shipment arrived in a spice bottle and looked nothing like the DCA she had been receiving from the U.S. Testing showed the white, coarse, sweet-smelling powder she had been sent was in fact not DCA and later analysis showed some of the drugs were made up of milk sugar, artificial sweetener, starch and talcum powder. ("Edmonton Man Behind Online Cancer Drug Scam: FBI," The Vancouver Sun, March 30, 2010; Story here)



Kenya: Social Networking Site Helps Fight Counterfeit Drugs


The social networking site Facebook now has an account which has been set up for Kenyans to report pharmacists who give them counterfeit drugs. The site will provide the opportunity for consumers with complaints about sub-standard and counterfeit drugs in the Kenyan market to alert the Pharmacy and Poisons Board. Consumers can report adverse drug reactions, counterfeit products, and unregistered practitioners by using the social networking site. ("Facebook to Track Rogue Pharmacists," The Nation, March 29, 2010; Story here)

About the Partnership for Safe Medicines
The Partnership for Safe Medicines is a group of organizations and individuals that have policies, procedures, or programs to protect consumers from counterfeit or contraband medicines. For more information, please visit