The National Association of Boards of Pharmacy (NABP) released a new report, the Internet Drug Outlet Identification Program Progress Report for State and Federal Regulators: August 2017, which discusses how illegal online pharmacies exploit the American perception that Canadian pharmacies provide safe medication at a lower cost.

In a recent study, NABP reviewed more than 100 pharmacy websites that used “Canada” or “Canadian” in their name or URL, or posted a Canadian contact address, and found that 74 percent source drugs from countries outside of Canada. None of the 108 websites included in the study require a valid prescription, which can pose a serious health risk for patients.

Sourcing medications from countries without stringent regulation and oversight exposes patients to medications that are not approved by Food and Drug Administration or Health Canada. The risk that these imported drugs are counterfeit or contaminated is high, and quality assurance is a major concern.

The report is released amidst discussions on proposed legislation that would allow United States consumers to legally import prescription medications from Canadian pharmacy sites. Without a tightly regulated international supply chain in place, it will be difficult to shield consumers from the risks associated with this type of policy.

Canada would continue to be an intermediate shipment point for unapproved medications. Neither Canada nor the U.S. are in a position to set up the appropriate inspection programs, as stated in the report.

NACDS and its allies, including the Alliance for Safe Online Pharmacies, have advocated for, and applauded, steps by Congress and federal agencies to improve the effort to confront illegal online drug sellers. NACDS also has recognized efforts of the Department of Justice and private companies to crack down on internet advertising by rogue websites and continues to advocate for additional legislative and administrative actions to combat the illegal sellers.