WhoIs PharmacyChecker.com?

PharmacyChecker is a company that provided online pharmacy certification services for the major search engines until 2010.
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Why did the search engines stop using PharmacyChecker’s services?

None of the search engines gave a public reason for ending their relationship with PharmacyChecker. Several experts in the field, including our own Bryan Liang, criticized PharmacyChecker and the search engines for failing to keep rogue pharmacies from advertising to consumers. The five major search engines (Google, Yahoo!, Microsoft, AOL, and Ask) have all standardized on using the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy’s VIPPS program since then.

Did anyone get in trouble for this?

In May of 2011, the New York Times wrote that the Rhode Island US Attorney was leading an investigation with the Food and Drug Administration into pharmaceutical advertising on Google. Google had previously disclosed in a securities filing that it had set aside US$500 million to pay for a possible settlement.

Is PharmacyChecker’s pharmacy verification service different than VIPPS?

Yes. The VIPPS program ensures that an online pharmacy has a license to dispense medication to you and is regulated in the state you live in. The short answer is that we don’t recommend using PharmacyChecker’s services if you want to ensure your pharmaceuticals come from a safe source.

Here’s the longer answer:

PSM Board member Dr. Bryan A. Liang and Mr.Tim Mackey are experts on the dangers of rogue pharmacies and have co-authored a paper about it that appeared in the American Journal of Law and Medicine, entitled: “Searching for Safety: Addressing Search Engine, Website and Provider Accountability for Illicit Online Drug Sales”.

They assert that:

  • PharmacyChecker.com has provided verification for online drug sellers engaged in actions directly in violation of its own purported requirements.
  • PharmacyChecker.com-verified sites are linked to additional, related unlawful activities, including selling narcotics without a prescription.
  • One PharmacyChecker.com-verified online drug seller, Pharmnet.com, was investigated by CNN, which found the site was simply selling controlled substances without a prescription, and was shipping drugs to all 50 states despite having only a Texas pharmacy license in violation of virtually all state drug dispensing laws.
  • Recent investigations of Yahoo and Microsoft’s online drug advertising found that 80-90 percent of reviewed ads from drug sellers did not require a prescription or were acting unlawfully, verifying Liang and Mackey’s observations, and contradicting Cooperman and Levitt’s claim about PharmacyChecker’s “rigorous monitoring” of search engine online drug sellers.

I read a claim by PharmacyChecker that disputes the Liang and Mackey paper, is that true?

Partnership for Safe Medicines (PSM) Board Member Dr. Bryan Liang was recently criticized in the American Journal of Law & Medicine for the “many inaccuracies and notable omissions,” in his article “Searching for Safety: Addressing Search Engine, Website and Provider Accountability for Illicit Online Drug Sales,” which he co-authored with Tim Mackey.

The critique came from Dr. Tod Cooperman and Gabriel Levitt, the president and vice president of PharmacyChecker.com, a verification service of online drug sellers that Liang and Mackey identified for its limited enforcement of and “stringent requirements” for online pharmacies.

Cooperman and Levitt claimed that “the online pharmacies that are verified by PharmacyChecker.com are rigorously monitored for compliance with strict standards,” and that “leading search engines use these verifications to qualify pharmacy advertisers and help protect consumers.”

In a published response, Dr. Liang and Mr. Mackey refuted Cooperman and Leavitt’s assertions regarding the article’s “inaccuracies and omissions,” as well as their claims regarding PharmacyChercker.com verification and search engine monitoring, noting that:

Compare prescription drug prices and online pharmacy ratings at PharmacyChecker.com has provided verification for online drug sellers engaged in actions directly in violation of its own purported requirements.

WWW.PharmacyChecker.com-verified sites are linked to additional, related unlawful activities, including selling narcotics without a prescription.

One PharmacyChecker.com-verified online drug seller, Pharmnet.com, was investigated by CNN, which found the site was simply selling controlled substances without a prescription, and was shipping drugs to all 50 states despite having only a Texas pharmacy license in violation of virtually all state drug dispensing laws.

Recent investigations of Yahoo and Microsoft’s online drug advertising found that 80-90 percent of reviewed ads from drug sellers did not require a prescription or were acting unlawfully, verifying Liang and Mackey’s observations, and contradicting Cooperman and Levitt’s claim about PharmacyChecker’s “rigorous monitoring” of search engine online drug sellers.

The PSM stands by Dr. Liang and Mr. Mackey as well as the accuracy and legitimacy of their paper. Furthermore, our colleagues should be commended for encouraging collaboration on these critical issues rather than combativeness.

Read the full letters – RESPONSE [PDF] in Vol. 35 No. 4 of the American Journal of Law & Medicine.

Source:Partnership for Safe Medicines – Who is PharmacyChecker? Checking the Facts on PharmacyChecker.com

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