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Google, Yahoo and Microsoft join campaign to tackle illegal online pharmacies

Center for Safe Internet Pharmacies sees private companies team up with US government

Center for Safe Internet Pharmacies (CSIP)

Illegal online pharmacies selling fake drugs are the target of a new campaign launch in the US that sees the government partner with private companies.

The Center for Safe Internet Pharmacies (CSIP), whose founding members include executives from Google, Yahoo and Microsoft, will work with officials from the US Department of State and the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to shut down illegal sites and support awareness efforts to help inform consumers about the dangers of counterfeit or contaminated prescription drugs.

“According to the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy (NABP), 96 per cent of all online pharmacies are operating illegally, out of compliance with US laws that protect the public health,” said Marjorie Clifton, CSIP executive director.

“Most consumers are unaware of this fact and more importantly are unaware of the dangers associated with purchasing these drugs.”

The campaign features a public service announcement video informing people about the risks of purchasing medication from fake pharmacies online, as well as a website providing information and tools, including an online pharmacy verification service.

Certain CSIP members will also user their expertise to implement search engine advertising on both Google and Microsoft's Bing, while all members plan to support similar campaigns from organisations including the Alliance for Safe Online Pharmacies (ASOP) and the partnership at Drugfree.org.

The launch of CSIP was welcomed by ASOP, with Alliance member William Reid, senior director for global anti-counterfeiting operations, Eli Lilly and Company, describing it as a “tremendous step forward in private sector efforts”.

“These companies have the unique ability to curb this growing public health threat, and we applaud CSIP members for recognising this role and committing to doing more to protect consumers.”

In a joint statement, the four largest pharma industry organisations in the world - International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers & Associations (IFPMA), Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA), European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations (EFPIA) and Japanese Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Association (JPMA) – were also supportive of CSIP as they unveiled their own recommendations for tackling counterfeit drugs globally.

The groups said they were “joining forces” to help protect patients worldwide by promoting access to safe medicines, supporting education and awareness about counterfeiting, and combating unsafe medicines.

This included a call for private sector stakeholders, including internet domain name registrars, search engine operators, and payment service providers, to join such efforts.

Richard Bergström, EFPIA director general, was keen for the work of CSPIA to be replicated in Europe.

He said: “We expect European policymakers to effectively back the ongoing initiative from EFPIA and supply chain stakeholders to set up an effective safeguard system against the entry of counterfeits in the legal supply chain in Europe.

“We believe governments, industry, and other relevant stakeholders must work together to stop this threat. CSIP is a good example of broad collaboration and and inspiration for stakeholders beyond the US.”

24th July 2012

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