|Weekly Update||June 21, 2010 |
|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
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 www.safeonlinerx.com.
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
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)
Police Shut Down Counterfeit Drug Operation
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,
Zimbabwe: Police Fight Back against
Distributers of Expired Drugs
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
India: Cancer Patient's Condition
Aggravated by Counterfeit Injection
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
Anti-counterfeiting Americas (Boston, USA)
When: Wednesday, Sep 8, 2010
Where: Boston, USA
PSM's Inaugural 2010
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
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 SafeMedicines.org