More public interest and consumer groups are hopping on the bandwagon to defend online access to safe and affordable medication. As we reported a few weeks back, the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy (NABP) has applied to the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers to administer a generic top level domain called “.Pharmacy” (dot pharmacy). NABP proposes to block all online pharmacies that fill orders internationally to Americans from obtaining a website that ends in .Pharmacy, including ones that are safe and approved by PharmacyChecker.com. NABP’s critics, identified below, view its application as an effort to curtail consumer purchases of lower cost medicine from outside the United States. One of their main concerns is that NABP’s application is funded by Merck and Eli Lilly – big pharma: a situation prone to major conflicts of interest.
To read more about this issue see our press release.
This NABP/ICANN issue can be very confusing so I offer the following explanation. ICANN is a non-profit organization that governs the world wide web system of domain names, such as .com, .org., and .edu. For a long time the available suffixes, called generic top-level domains (gTLDs) that could be used for website names have been limited. Last year ICANN opened up a process by which companies and organizations could apply to act as registry – administrators – for new names, such as .career, .casino, .charity, etc. In theory, this could open up new opportunities for innovation and development over the Internet. However, a pharma-funded initiative to make the rules and govern the Internet in an area as critical as the distribution of prescription medication will serve only to protect business interests to the detriment of consumers.
David Moon from Demand Progress, an Internet freedom group and lead organization in battling the Stop Online Piracy Act, sums it up perfectly: “From our direct experience with NABP and its allies in Internet policy disputes, there is ample cause to believe the applicant seeks to control .pharmacy to the detriment of free speech & access to safe and affordable medication for consumers.”
Here is a list of the groups and people who have voiced opposition and concern about NABP’s application for .Pharmacy:
Canadian International Pharmacy Association (Tim Smith, President)
Demand Progress (David Moon, Program Director)
Knowledge Ecology International – KEI (James Love, Director)
Mature Voices Minnesota (Robert E. Hines, Board Chair)
PharmacyChecker.com (Tod Cooperman, MD, President and Gabriel Levitt, Vice President)
Public Citizen (Peter Maybarduk, JD, Global Access to Medicines Program Director)
Ram Kamath, PharmD (PharmacyChecker.com, Director of Pharmacy Policy and International Verifications).
RxRights.org (Lee Graczyk, Lead Organizer)
TodaysSeniorsNetwork.com (Daniel Hines)