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US FDA Targets Illegal Pharma Domains

Published October 18, 2010

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) along with other national and international partners from 40 participating countries has completed an initiative to curtail the illegal sale of online pharmaceuticals, shutting down such operations of hundreds of "pharma" domains.

The initiative was part of the the International Internet Week of Action (IIWA ), which took place between October 5-12, 2010 and was sponsored by INTERPOL, the World Health Organization's International Medical ProductsAnti-Counterfeiting Task Force and the Permanent Forum on International Pharmaceutical Crime.   

The sweep targeted 294 domains that appeared to be engaged in the illegal sale of unapproved/misbranded medications to U.S. consumers. Warning Letters went out to the operators of the web sites and also to corresponding Internet Service Providers ( ISP ) and Domain Name Registrars ( DNR ).

As conducting illegal activities violates domain name registrar policies and agreements, registrars were encouraged to suspend the use of the domain names. Of the 294 domains involved, a total of 274 have been suspended or no longer offer pharmaceuticals for sale.

In Australia, pharma domains must operate under the same Australian Laws and Standards that all other Australian retail Pharmacies practice and cannot offer to sell any product that has not been approved for sale in Australia by the relevant authorities. In some cases, to register a Australian domain name that is heavily tied to a commercial pharmaceutical theme, brand or product, the application must be accompanied by proof of the registrant being permitted to engage in the activity.

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