Who is PharmacyChecker.com?

PharmacyChecker is a company that provided online pharmacy certification services for the major search engines until 2010.

Why did the search engines stop using PharmacyChecker’s services?

None of the search engines gave a public reason for ending their relationship with PharmacyChecker. Several experts in the field, including our own Bryan Liang, criticized PharmacyChecker and the search engines for failing to keep rogue pharmacies from advertising to consumers. The five major search engines (Google, Yahoo!, Microsoft, AOL, and Ask) have all standardized on using the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy’s VIPPS program since then.

Did anyone get in trouble for this?

In May of 2011, the New York Times wrote that the Rhode Island US Attorney was leading an investigation with the Food and Drug Administration into pharmaceutical advertising on Google. Google had previously disclosed in a securities filing that it had set aside US$500 million to pay for a possible settlement.

Is PharmacyChecker’s pharmacy verification service different than VIPPS?

Yes. The VIPPS program ensures that an online pharmacy has a license to dispense medication to you and is regulated in the state you live in. The short answer is that we don’t recommend using PharmacyChecker’s services if you want to ensure your pharmaceuticals come from a safe source.

Here’s the longer answer:

PSM Board member Dr. Bryan A. Liang and Mr.Tim Mackey are experts on the dangers of rogue pharmacies and have co-authored a paper about it that appeared in the American Journal of Law and Medicine, entitled: “Searching for Safety: Addressing Search Engine, Website and Provider Accountability for Illicit Online Drug Sales”.

They assert that:

  • PharmacyChecker.com has provided verification for online drug sellers engaged in actions directly in violation of its own purported requirements.
  • PharmacyChecker.com-verified sites are linked to additional, related unlawful activities, including selling narcotics without a prescription.
  • One PharmacyChecker.com-verified online drug seller, Pharmnet.com, was investigated by CNN, which found the site was simply selling controlled substances without a prescription, and was shipping drugs to all 50 states despite having only a Texas pharmacy license in violation of virtually all state drug dispensing laws.
  • Recent investigations of Yahoo and Microsoft’s online drug advertising found that 80-90 percent of reviewed ads from drug sellers did not require a prescription or were acting unlawfully, verifying Liang and Mackey’s observations, and contradicting Cooperman and Levitt’s claim about PharmacyChecker’s “rigorous monitoring” of search engine online drug sellers.

I read a claim by PharmacyChecker that disputes the Liang and Mackey paper, is that true?

Partnership for Safe Medicines (PSM) Board Member Dr. Bryan Liang was recently criticized in the American Journal of Law & Medicine for the “many inaccuracies and notable omissions,” in his article “Searching for Safety: Addressing Search Engine, Website and Provider Accountability for Illicit Online Drug Sales,” which he co-authored with Tim Mackey.

The critique came from Dr. Tod Cooperman and Gabriel Levitt, the president and vice president of PharmacyChecker.com, a verification service of online drug sellers that Liang and Mackey identified for its limited enforcement of and “stringent requirements” for online pharmacies.

Cooperman and Levitt claimed that “the online pharmacies that are verified by PharmacyChecker.com are rigorously monitored for compliance with strict standards,” and that “leading search engines use these verifications to qualify pharmacy advertisers and help protect consumers.”

In a published response, Dr. Liang and Mr. Mackey refuted Cooperman and Leavitt’s assertions regarding the article’s “inaccuracies and omissions,” as well as their claims regarding PharmacyChercker.com verification and search engine monitoring, noting that:

Compare prescription drug prices and online pharmacy ratings at PharmacyChecker.com has provided verification for online drug sellers engaged in actions directly in violation of its own purported requirements.

WWW.PharmacyChecker.com-verified sites are linked to additional, related unlawful activities, including selling narcotics without a prescription.

One PharmacyChecker.com-verified online drug seller, Pharmnet.com, was investigated by CNN, which found the site was simply selling controlled substances without a prescription, and was shipping drugs to all 50 states despite having only a Texas pharmacy license in violation of virtually all state drug dispensing laws.

Recent investigations of Yahoo and Microsoft’s online drug advertising found that 80-90 percent of reviewed ads from drug sellers did not require a prescription or were acting unlawfully, verifying Liang and Mackey’s observations, and contradicting Cooperman and Levitt’s claim about PharmacyChecker’s “rigorous monitoring” of search engine online drug sellers.

The PSM stands by Dr. Liang and Mr. Mackey as well as the accuracy and legitimacy of their paper. Furthermore, our colleagues should be commended for encouraging collaboration on these critical issues rather than combativeness.

Read the full letters – RESPONSE [PDF] in Vol. 35 No. 4 of the American Journal of Law & Medicine.

Source:Partnership for Safe Medicines – Who is PharmacyChecker? Checking the Facts on PharmacyChecker.com

2 thoughts on “Who is PharmacyChecker.com?

  1. SFA Reporter says:

    Over the last year, a company that advocates for illegal prescription drug importation, called http://www.Pharmacychecker.com Compare prescription drug prices and online pharmacy ratings at PharmacyChecker.com, has repeatedly engaged in false and highly personal attacks against LegitScript and its President, John Horton

      . It’s not a rare situation in this information age: people can plaster whatever accusations they want all over the Internet, whether or not they are true.

      PharmacyChecker has repeatedly been informed that its allegations are false, yet declines to remove the misleading information. So let’s set the record straight.

      First, PharmacyChecker is a competitor. Google, which used to require Internet pharmacy advertisers to be PharmacyChecker-approved, terminated its contract with PharmacyChecker (followed by Yahoo and Microsoft), and then hired LegitScript to monitor Google’s Internet pharmacy ads in the US. After that, the personal attacks against us started.

      Second, before PharmacyChecker lost the Google contract, multiple sources (including LegitScript) revealed that PharmacyChecker had approved Internet pharmacies that were selling prescription drugs without a prescription. Some of these were the subject of counterfeit drug warnings in the U.S. or Canada. LegitScript was one of the parties responsible for exposing this information.

      Third, it’s important to take an objective look at what and whom PharmacyChecker advocates for. The company promotes itself as an impartial evaluator of Internet pharmacies, but expends significant energy insisting that foreign drug suppliers are safe, despite being illegal to order from, and despite the fact that some of these supply chains have been the subject of counterfeit drug warnings. The problem here is, companies that provide certification services are supposed to impartially apply their standards, not act as a advocate on behalf of those whom they are supposed to monitor. A portion of PharmacyChecker’s revenue comes from foreign Internet pharmacies that market themselves as “Canadian,” but that are really supplying drugs from India, Turkey, Singapore and other locations, not Canada.

      Just look at PharmacyChecker’s track record of certifying unsafe Internet pharmacies. Among the Internet pharmacies that PharmacyChecker has approved:
      RxNorth.com (selling counterfeit drugs);
      pharmnet.com (advertising controlled substances that were sold without a prescription from India);
      livewellrx.com (which sold an undercover “13 year old” muscle relaxants without a valid prescription);
      pillsbargain.com (which did not require a valid prescription for tramadol);
      tenpharmastores.com (which linked to websites offering Vicodin without a prescription);
      shopeastwest.com (listed on PharmacyChecker’s own website, and selling prescription drugs without a prescription from India);
      top10pharma.com (selling drugs without a valid prescription), and more.
      All of these websites were PharmacyChecker-approved.
      After LegitScript documented that information, Tod Cooperman (PharmacyChecker president and Gabriel Levitt (PharmacyChecker VP) published claims against John Horton that are completely untrue. They falsely imply that there is, or may be, a congressional investigation against LegitScript or against John Horton for misuse of his (former) government position at the White House. The truth: there is not, and never has been, any such investigation, although Cooperman and Levitt have tried (and failed) to instigate one, even sending a letter to Congress that included false accusations. Cooperman and Levitt even went so far as to insinuate that John Horton criminally accepted bribes from the pharmaceutical industry while in government –– a totally false allegation with zero basis in fact. The list of desperate, untrue accusations goes on.

      So why is this happening? LegitScript has helped put thousands of illicit foreign (and domestic) pharmaceutical suppliers’ websites out of business or prevented them from advertising online. PharmacyChecker is a key supporter of that industry, and advocates for it strongly –– we presume on a paid basis. But those who accept PharmacyChecker’s self-promotion as a selfless, altruistic advocate for people who can’t afford their medications, should remember that PharmacyChecker is a for-profit business, and its business interests are closely tied to those of foreign drug suppliers.

      So, if you’ve read the defamatory accusations against LegitScript and John Horton, keep this in mind: PharmacyChecker “verified” Internet pharmacies as legitimate that were the subject of counterfeit drug warnings and were selling drugs without a prescription – not just one or two websites, but multiple websites. It should come as no surprise that they are willing to disseminate outright lies about a competitor.

      LegitScript has also prepared a more detailed point-by-point response for interested parties.

  2. SFA Reporter says:

    The original material, republished above, was created by a group run by the pharmaceutical industry called Partnership for Safe Medicines [http://pharmacycheckerblog.com/safemedicines-org-scaring-the-public-away-from-safe-and-affordable-medicine-as-the-partnership-for-safe-medicines].

    Two of its main goals appear to be scaring consumers away from reputable and affordable online sources of medication and eventually blocking all future access by Americans to safe and affordable medication in Canada and other countries. Approximately one million Americans rely on safe international online pharmacies to better afford prescription medication.

    Some would go without needed medication if they did not have this option. The pharmaceutical industry does not want Americans buying less expensive medication directly from non-U.S. pharmacies because it cuts into their profits. PharmacyChecker.com is a leading verification and price comparison company helping Americans find information about safe and affordable U.S. and non-U.S. online pharmacies.

    Therefore it comes as no surprise that groups funded and aligned with the pharmaceutical industry spend time and money trying to discredit PharmacyChecker.com.

    The long comment to this article is largely copy and pasted from a blog post published by LegitScript.com [http://pharmacycheckerblog.com/legitscript-not-so-legit]. That entity is a lead member in another organization funded by pharmaceutical and U.S. pharmacy interests that is also dedicated to blocking Americans from buying safe medications outside the United States: http://pharmacycheckerblog.com/alliance-for-safe-online-pharmacies-safeonlinerx-com-%E2%80%93-really-an-%E2%80%9Calliance-against-safe-and-affordable-online-pharmacies%E2%80%9D.

    In fact, if you look behind virtually all reports and posts that are critical of PharmacyChecker.com you’ll find the pharmaceutical and U.S. pharmacy industries.

    Brand name drug prices in America are out of reach for 10’s of millions of Americans. Go to RxRights.org – http://www.rxrights.org – to stop the pharmaceutical industry from making it even harder for people to afford needed medication.

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