US to target fake online pill pedlars

Spam in e-mail inbox, BBC Many spammers join forces with sites that sell fake or unlicensed medicines

Related Stories

Online stores that sell fake drugs or pills without prescriptions are being targeted by the US government.

It has set up an initiative that will try to shut down the web stores and educate people about the dangers of buying drugs from such places.

Search firms, payment providers and net hosting firms have all pledged to help the crackdown.

Research suggests about 36 million Americans have bought medicines from unlicensed web pharmacies.

"Those who sell prescription drugs online without a valid prescription are operating illegally, undercutting the laws that were put in place to protect patients, and are thereby endangering the public health," said Victoria Espinel, US intellectual property enforcement co-ordinator, in a statement.

"It is a real wake-up call that so many Americans have engaged in this dangerous behaviour," she said.

Web firms joining the initiative include search giant Google, domain registration firm Network Solutions, hosting companies as well as payment processors Paypal, Visa and Mastercard.

Together, the firms hope to tackle every link in the chain that keeps unlicensed pharmacies operating by stopping them using ads on search engines, taking their websites offline, delisting the domains they use and stopping payments reaching them.

Many spammers align with online pharmacies and direct those who click on links in junk mail to the pedlars of fake pills.

The commercial partners in the initiative will also share information with law enforcement agencies and fund public awareness campaigns of the dangers of buying drugs from unlicensed pharmacies.

"The abuse of prescription medications is one of the most troubling public health problems in our country today," said Steve Pasierb, president of the non-profit Drugfree.org which runs education campaigns about drug abuse.

Drugfree and the Alliance for Safe Online Pharmacies are planning research to find out why one in six Americans have bought drugs from web pharmacies. They will also look into what they buy and try to uncover the reasons some people see the practice as risky and others do not.

The initiative was announced at a White House summit on intellectual property and is one result of a plan the Obama administration submitted to Congress in mid-2010 that committed to tackling counterfeit medicines.

More on This Story

Related Stories

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites

More Technology stories

RSS

Features

  • RihannaCloud caution

    After celebrity leaks, what can you do to safeguard your photos?


  • Cesc FabregasFair price?

    Have some football clubs overpaid for their new players?


  • Woman and hairdryerBlow back

    Would banning high-power appliances actually save energy?


  • Rack of lambFavourite feast

    Is the UK unusually fond of lamb and potatoes?


  • Members of staff at James Stevenson Flags hold a Union Jack and Saltire flag UK minus Scotland

    Does the rest of the UK care if the Scots become independent?


BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.