The Partnership for Safe Medicines
Weekly UpdateJune 21, 2010
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PSM Profiles the Alliance for Safe Online Pharmacies

In mid-May 2010, a collection of leaders in the pharmaceutical space joined to launch the Alliance for Safe Online Pharmacies (ASOP), of which the Partnership for Safe Medicines (PSM) is an educating party. We caught up with Libby Baney, an advisor at B&D Consulting who counsels the Alliance, to learn more about its mission.

PSM: Tell us how the Alliance for Safe Online Pharmacies came to be. Who all is involved with this project?

Libby Baney: The Alliance for Safe Online Pharmacies began in the fall of 2009 when an initial group of stakeholders from varying organizations got together to discuss the public health threat created by illegal online drug sellers. These individuals and entities operate in violation of state and federal laws, sell prescription medications without requiring a valid prescription, and/or dispense counterfeit, substandard, or non-FDA approved medications.

ASOP is led by a Steering Group that includes the American Pharmacists Association, Eli Lilly & Company, LegitScript and the National Association of Chain Drug Stores. ASOP also benefits from the interest of a number of Observers who participate in ASOP meetings-and support the Alliance's mission-but are not voting members. ASOP Observers include the National Association of Boards of Pharmacies, National Health Council and the Partnership for Safe Medicines.

PSM: What is your mission statement and how do you intend to fulfill it?

LB: ASOP seeks to protect patient safety and ensure patient access to safe and legitimate online pharmacies. We'd like to see Internet access and payment stakeholders work in concert with the government to ensure that search results, domain names, promotional ads and payment mechanisms are only available to legitimate online pharmacies that sell FDA-approved medicines to U.S. patients in compliance with federal and state law.

We're fulfilling this mission by engaging with key government stakeholders including the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), the Department of Justice (DOJ), and the Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator (IPEC). We're also taking steps to encourage government action to increase enforcement on and elimination of illegal online drug sellers. We also are working on public awareness efforts to educate people about the dangers of buying medications online.

PSM: In February, Google changed its advertising policy for pharmaceuticals in the U.S. and Canada. Just a few days ago, Microsoft and Yahoo! also changed their policies for U.S. sponsored search results. What's your take on this? What next steps would you like to see?

LB: ASOP commends Google, Microsoft and Yahoo! for changing their policies to restrict advertisements targeting the U.S. from illegal online drug sellers-these policies may make the online marketplace safer for consumers and improve the overall relevance of their search results. We encourage other search engines to consider adopting similar policies to help protect consumers.

PSM: How can other individuals or organizations get involved with the Alliance?

LB: People interested in ASOP should contact us directly at 703-539-ASOP (2767) or via our website at
Top News

FDA Alert: Tamiflu

On June 17, 2010, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) released results of a purchase of supposed "generic Tamiflu" from an online pharmacy. According to the FDA, the pharmacy was likely an illegitimate operation, and the product was not Tamiflu, as it lacked its active ingredient. Full details from the FDA.

United States: Big Three Search Engines all Require Verification for Online Pharmacies


Following Google's lead, Microsoft and Yahoo now require that companies which advertise pharmaceuticals using their sponsored search results be accredited by the Verified Internet Pharmacy Practice Sites (VIPPS). This comes after search engines such as Microsoft's Bing have been criticized for allowing illegitimate pharmacies to advertise on their site. One study reported last year concluded that the vast majority of all advertisements for pharmacies displayed alongside search engine results were violating federal and state laws, for example by offering medicines without a prescription or by supplying counterfeit drugs. "This is a significant step toward mitigating the threat of unsafe medicines available for purchase online," said Bryan Liang of the Partnership for Safe Medicines. ("Microsoft, Yahoo Follow Google in Fight Against Rogue Online Pharmacies, Securing Pharma, June 11, 2010; Story here)

World News

UAE: Police Shut Down Counterfeit Drug Operation


Sharjah police recently foiled a counterfeit lifestyle drugs racket worth millions of dirhams. The police received a complaint from a pharmaceutical firm and distributor regarding individuals who were promoting counterfeit capsules of lifestyle drugs. They seized five cartons each containing 8,820 tablets, totaling over 65,000 tablets. The forger confirmed to the police that he had other cartons stored at a rented apartment in Al Butiana. Other counterfeit body creams were also seized. ("Spurious Drugs Racket Busted," Khaleej Times, June 12, 2010; Story here)



Zimbabwe: Police Fight Back against Distributers of Expired Drugs


Police in Harare have arrested at least 50 people including six doctors involved in the distribution of expired medical drugs, with the latest being Reginald Neild, a director with the non-governmental organization (NGO) Deseret International. Neild was arrested last Thursday on suspicion of sourcing sub-standard drugs and supplying them to lawmakers from Movement for Democratic Change (MDC-T) and Zimbabwe Development Trust. ("More People Arrested over Expired Drugs," Newsday, June 16, 2010; Story here)



India: Cancer Patient's Condition Aggravated by Counterfeit Injection


A Consumer court in the Capital ordered a pharmaceutical distributor to pay Rs 10.5 lakh as punitive damages to a bone cancer patient for selling him a counterfeit injection that aggravated his condition. The court also directed the Delhi Drug Controller to initiate civil or criminal proceedings against the distributor, M/s Impex India, "so that other patients may not become victims". The distributor's license has already been suspended. ("Distributor in Spot for Fake Drugs," Hindustan Times, June 16; Story here)



Anti-counterfeiting Americas (Boston, USA)
When: Wednesday, Sep 8, 2010
Where: Boston, USA
Description: Link here

PSM's Inaugural 2010 Interchange
When: Friday, Oct 8, 2010
Where: Washington, D.C.
Description: The Partnership for Safe Medicines invites you to save the date for an intimate conference bringing together patient groups, providers, pharmaceutical company quality experts, enforcement personnel, policymakers, regulatory agency experts and other interested parties to discuss key issues around counterfeit drugs andother unsafe medicines. Link 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