On July 17, 2014, the Alliance for Safe Online Pharmacies (ASOP), ASOP EU and the Center for Safe Internet Pharmacies (CSIP) hosted a seminar on “Protecting Patients from Falsified Medicines Online” in Brussels. The seminar aimed to underscore the growing and shared threat of illegitimate online pharmacies, which prey on consumers in the U.S. and the European Union (EU)—the primary targets for illegal online drug sellers. There are approximately 30,000–50,000 illegal online pharmacies active at any one time in the U.S. and EU, and 97 percent are out of compliance with applicable laws and standards.

“As we work for global solutions, this seminar enabled an important dialogue on how the U.S. and EU might work together to protect patients from illegal online drug sellers and the falsified medicines they peddle,” said Libby Baney, Executive Director of ASOP. “Transatlantic collaboration and commitment is essential to finding meaningful global solutions. ASOP looks forward to working with EU and U.S. leaders on concrete actions to improve patient safety online.”

In addition to proactive cooperation among key stakeholders, takeaways from the seminar focused on education for consumers, and also for healthcare professionals who can be pivotal in influencing patient behavior by educating patients on the threat from illegal online drug sellers.

Officials from the European Commission, the U.S. government, as well as key stakeholders from the U.S. and EU healthcare and Internet commerce communities, patient groups and other non-government organizations, attended the seminar.

NACDS is a founding member of ASOP and NACDS Director of Federal & State Public Policy Diane Darvey represents NACDS its board. Baney said, “ASOP truly appreciates NACDS’ leadership on this important patient safety issue.”

NACDS and its allies have advocated for, and applauded, steps by the U.S. Congress and federal agencies to improve the effort to confront illegal online drug sellers. For example, the Ryan Haight Online Pharmacy Consumer Protection Act—passed and enacted in 2008—established new requirements for the purchase or distribution of prescription drugs over the Internet, and toughened penalties and enforcement against illegal activity.

NACDS also has recognized efforts of the Department of Justice and private companies to crack down on Internet advertising by rogue websites. NACDS continues to advocate for additional legislative and administrative actions, as well as the international collaboration recommended at the recent ASOP and CSIP seminar.