Commentary: National association urges care in using Internet pharmacies

Jim Underhill
Jim Underhill

The National Association of Boards of Pharmacy (NABP) warns the public about certain dangerous Internet-based pharmacies. The NABP, plus state and federal agencies, monitor these businesses routinely. The public needs to understand the known concerns when choosing such businesses to obtain medications. The problems can include receiving a medication that provides no cure or relief, or counterfeit medications that result in sickness or death. An additional concern is having no certainty about the business location (“where in the world is it?”) and their practice in filling orders.

Internet pharmacies are increasing worldwide, making access easy. Coupled with a need to find affordable medications, many are drawn to such sites with little understanding of the potential risk. Fortunately, the NABP provides educational information on its website, plus a list of on-line pharmacies deemed safe for the public.

Go to the association’s website,, and you will find information about ‘buying medicine online’ and a list of ‘safe pharmacies.’ Be sure to watch the ’60 Minutes’ segment, and the response by NABP and various government agencies to this international problem. The public needs to be educated about this Internet-based business model. Then you can make a safe decision when purchasing prescriptions on-line.

Edmonds resident Jim Underhill started his 33-year federal career after graduating from Portland State University with an MPA.  He entered the service through a two-year Presidential Management Fellows assignment with the Department of Health & Human Services. What followed, in Washington D.C., Baltimore and Seattle, was a variety of responsibilities tied to the Medicare program. A particular focus was with Medicare policies/procedures and the pharmaceutical industry. The Internet-based problem was effort to build collaborations with the NABP, and federal and state authorities, to protect the public from harm and fraud. It continues to this day.

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