by Tod Cooperman, MD, President, PharmacyChecker.com, and Gabriel Levitt, Vice President, PharmacyChecker.com | Jul 24, 2012 | Advocacy, Drug Importation, Drug Prices, Online Pharmacies, Pharmaceutical Industry
A new organization, the Center for Safe Internet Pharmacies (CSIP) – safemedsonline.org – made its debut yesterday. Unfortunately, the group seems more focused on keeping its big corporate members in the good graces of the pharmaceutical industry and government than on helping American consumers. In fact, its actions may endanger public health.
This should come as no surprise, as the plan to create the Center for Safe Internet Pharmacies was hatched by the White House Office of the U.S. Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator in 2010 which, as previously reported here, was handed the plan by the pharmaceutical industry. The plan fit very well with the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and Protect Intellectual Property Act (PIPA) legislation which was eventually shelved.
The Center for Safe Internet Pharmacies has two main activities. The first is to educate, or more accurately, “scare,” the public away from using “illegal” pharmacies, which appear to include licensed and safe pharmacies outside the U.S. which sell genuine but lower priced medicine to Americans. The second is to work with the U.S. government to “shut down” chosen online pharmacies by blocking their ability to appear in online searches and to accept payments.
CSIP has handed over the job of deciding which online pharmacies are okay to LegitScript, which has its own suspect past and intentions. All non-US online pharmacies are branded “not approved” by LegitScript on the basis that it’s technically illegal to personally import most medications – even though the government, in its wisdom, has permitted it. Moreover, it appears that LegitScript is essentially a private sector extension of the FDA as evidenced by its $2.6 million government contract.
As part of its launch, the Center for Safe Internet Pharmacies produced a scare video showing a caring, young woman go online to research and order lower-priced medication online for an elderly relative. The relative then falls ill and the young woman worries that the medicine may have been fake or even “rat poison” and, through the miracle of video, the clock is rolled back, the medicine is never ordered, and all is somehow well without the medicine.
This far-fetched horror flick is far more likely to scare people away from affordable medicine than keep them safe. It’s an indisputable fact that for more than a decade millions of Americans, many of whom have trouble paying for prescription medication in the United States, have safely filled their prescriptions, at much lower prices, through online pharmacies in Canada and other countries. Independent research has also shown that medicine ordered from sites approved by PharmacyChecker.com or the VIPPS Program is genuine. If CSIP’s well-funded public relations team could have found a person who was actually injured by ordering medicine with a prescription from an online pharmacy, they would not have had to create a fictitious character and story.
It is well document that tens of tens of millions of Americans go without medication each year due to cost and suffer real illness as a result. Keeping them “safe” means helping Americans find affordable medicine – not cutting a lifeline to it.
There are plenty of rogue pharmacies out there which CSIP can help root out – ones that sell fake medicine and don’t require prescriptions. We hope CSIP decides to focus all of its attention on these real dangers. If not, the real horror story could turn out to be CSIP itself when its actions increase the number of people who go without needed medication or are left impoverished due to prices at pharmacies of which CSIP “approves.”
Tagged with: Center for Safe Internet Pharmacies, CSIP, Drug Prices, LegitScript, Online Pharmacies, Online Pharmacy Verification Services, PIPA, SOPA
by Gabriel Levitt, President, PharmacyChecker.com and Prescription Justice | Jan 18, 2012 | Advocacy, Online Pharmacies, Personal Drug Importation
Americans, who struggle with the high cost of prescription medication and buy prescription drugs from safe non-U.S. online pharmacies, should include their voice in the swelling opposition to the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) before Congress.
SOPA and its counterpart legislation in the Senate, the Protect Intellectual Property Act (PIPA), target reputable international online pharmacies, including those approved by PharmacyChecker.com, and seek to block access by Americans to safe and affordable prescription medication. These bills, if made into law, could be used to designate legitimate foreign online pharmacies as “dangers to the public health” and subject them to being blocked from the Internet as well as from appearing in search results and accepting credit card payments.
Access to medication is just one part of the legislation, which also focuses on protecting copyrights. There is good reason to clamp down on online pirates and counterfeiters. However, as currently proposed, SOPA tramples on the U.S. Constitution, encourages censorship, stifles innovation, and even subverts our foreign policy efforts to encourage other governments to allow their citizens uncensored Internet access! For a fuller understanding of the access to affordable medicines issues at stake, please read: “SOPA will have grave effects on the health of hundreds of thousands of Americans”.
If you go to PharmacyChecker.com today, you’ll find that we’ve joined the huge opposition to SOPA by encouraging Americans to take action against this damaging legislation. You can protest SOPA now by contacting your elected officials from RxRight.org.
Tagged with: PIPA, Protect Intellectual Property Act, RxRights, SOPA, Stop Online Piracy Act
by PharmacyChecker.com | Jan 11, 2012 | Advocacy, Online Pharmacies
Today we’d like to feature content from our ally RxRights.org, a non-profit group dedicated to protecting access to safe and affordable personal drug importation through verified online pharmacies:
Lee Graczyk, RxRights lead organizer, felt compelled to respond to a recent Washington Post editorial about the problem of Internet piracy and the legislation that has been crafted to address it. Though we have not had much luck getting the Post to publish Lee’s responses in the past, he
continues to try, and wanted to share his latest effort.
The Post editorial board was on target in stating that the Stop Online Piracy Act’s (SOPA) definition of a rogue site is dangerously overbroad and could threaten legitimate Web sites [“A fair block on Internet piracy” editorial, Jan. 3.] Its explanation, however, could go further to discuss the implications SOPA would have on Americans who import their medications from legitimate pharmacies.
Hundreds of thousands of Americans–90,000 people in Florida alone–rely on ordering vital prescription medications from safe, licensed Canadian and other international pharmacies, mostly due to the exorbitant costs of prescription drugs in the U.S. If passed, SOPA would take away Americans’ access to these pharmacies. This is because the bill inappropriately groups together real pharmacies–licensed, legitimate pharmacies that require a doctor’s prescription and sell brand-name medications–and the rogues that sell everything from diluted or counterfeit medicine to narcotics without a prescription.
As legislators continue to move forward with SOPA, as well as its Senate counterpart, the PROTECT IP Act, they should recognize this is not only an Internet infrastructure and security matter, but also a grave health concern.
This article can also be found on RxRights.org. PharmacyChecker.com is an RxRights coalition member.
Tagged with: Canada, Internet, PROTECT IP Act, rogue pharmacies, Rx Rights coalition, RxRights, SOPA, Stop Online Pri, United States, Washington Post