Industry holds Internet pharmacy summit

January 1, 2000

Pharmaceutical Representative

A coalition of Internet pharmacies, federal and state officials, consumer advocacy groups and medical groups met last November to evaluate online pharmacy practices. The group devised an action plan for consumer education, legislation and regulation to protect patients who shop for prescriptions online.

A coalition of Internet pharmacies, federal and state officials, consumer advocacy groups and medical groups met last November to evaluate online pharmacy practices. The group devised an action plan for consumer education, legislation and regulation to protect patients who shop for prescriptions online.

"The principal goal of the summit was to set the course for the future of online pharmacies," said Carmen Catizone, executive director of the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy. "A key focus was how to make the Internet a safe place for patients to fill their prescriptions and get accurate health information."

The summit, which was organized by the NABP after PlanetRx.com CEO Bill Razzouk called for an industry initiative during recent congressional testimony, was co-sponsored by drugstore.com, CVS.com and Merck-Medco. Industry participants joined in support of the NAPB's Verified Internet Pharmacy Practices Sites certification program as the official seal of approval for ethical Internet pharmacy practices and the first step in safeguarding consumer health online. The VIPPS seal is awarded to licensed online pharmacies that legitimately dispense prescription products and have registered with the appropriate state agencies.

"Public-private partnerships – combining government, industry and patient advocates – are key to educating consumers," said keynote speaker Richard Blumenthal, attorney general of Connecticut. "Providing consumers with relevant information about 'rogue sites,' as well as responsible online pharmacies, will empower them to make wise decisions about health care."

During the summit, participants vowed to raise consumer awareness of the VIPPS seal of approval. "We need to make VIPPS a recognizable brand that will guide patients to reputable sources of medication and information," said Catizone.

Summit participants also supported the creation of an industry-wide coalition that will:


• Establish a task force on technology to assess the scope of the problem and develop rational legislation and enforcement initiatives.


• Develop an aggressive consumer education program and materials to inform patients about the VIPPS seal and the protections it offers.


• Collaborate with physicians and other professional prescriber organizations to develop guidelines related to the appropriate prescriber/patient relationship in an online pharmacy environment.

Said Dyke F. Anderson, NABP president: "All of us participating in this summit want to see illegal sites stopped. We are encouraged by the industry's support of the VIPPS program and other education initiatives to achieve this important goal." PR