Will the new ".Pharmacy" domain help reduce fake online pharmacies?
In all honesty, I was surprised to read in the December (2014) issue of the American Journal of Health-System Pharmacy (AJHP) that the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy (NABP) were pursuing a domain name of ".Pharmacy" which they recieved on September 5 of this year.
NABP has done alot of research into bogus pharmacies and related products online, and the results have been dismal. Their research of over 10,000 drug outlets found 97% to be bunk, which is quite distressing. This is especially the case when you take into consideration that many patients are looking to cut medical costs, and finding cheaper alternatives to their medications is often an identified outlet. That being the case, helping consumers identify reputable online pharmacies may help reduce patient harm and negative health outcomes.
The AJHP article indicates the process of applying for a '.Pharmacy' domain includes a $750 dollar payment for the domain, and a further $2000 to NABP for evaluation and what I envision a stamp of approval for backing as a trustworthy online pharmacy (Traynor, 2014). However, where I think a big problem will be, will be a proposed tiered system, where some big name strings will go for alot (i.e. "Diabetes.pharmacy" or "immunization.pharmacy") which could fetch more than $50,000 according to AJHP (Traynor, 2014). This seems like something only industry or similar organizations will be able to pay.
Overall, I think this may be a good thing, especially if NABP does a good enough job evaluating the applicants and teasing out the bogus pharmacies. However, patient buyin will be paramount in order to make it work, and I will be curious to see the marketing campaign that will most likely start coming after there are enough applicants.
Source: Traynor K. New internet domain launched for pharmacy community. Am J Health Syst Pharm. 2014 71(24), 2100-2104.