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VIPPS Celebrates 10th Anniversary, Continues to Guide Consumers to Legitimate Internet Pharmacies
Date:3/30/2009

MOUNT PROSPECT, Ill., March 30 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Introduced by the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy(R) (NABP)(R) in February 1999, the Verified Internet Pharmacy Practice Sites(TM) (VIPPS)(R) program celebrates 10 years of protecting patients. The VIPPS program enables consumers to confidently access important information regarding the licensure and practices of legitimate Internet pharmacies in the nation. A total of 16 pharmacy sites representing more than 12,000 pharmacies have been accredited through the program.

Identified early on as a valuable resource for those seeking information on safely purchasing medications via the Internet, the VIPPS program continues to receive national and local recognition by Food and Drug Administration, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and media including newspapers, magazines, and online health resources.

"For 10 years, the VIPPS program has provided the public instant access to independently verified and maintained information about the legitimacy of Internet pharmacies," states Rich Palombo, RPh, NABP president. "Because of the program's design and the thoroughness of NABP," he says, "VIPPS will continue to provide assurance to consumers and health care professionals that these accredited Internet pharmacies, to which they are entrusting their family's health and safety, are in fact legitimate."

To be considered for VIPPS accreditation, an Internet pharmacy must first complete the VIPPS application and include documentation that verifies adherence to the rigorous 19-point criteria. Once the application and supporting documentation have been received, NABP staff begins the verification and evaluation process, which includes a site visit conducted by one or more surveyors. The VIPPS surveyor(s) will visit the applicant's pharmacy and review and verify the policies and procedures that implement the VIPPS criteria.

Only after successfully completing this application, evaluation, verification, and site survey process is the online pharmacy awarded VIPPS accreditation and provided with the VIPPS seal. These seals are displayed on the accredited pharmacies' Web sites and provide patients with a direct link to the VIPPS verification Web page, where they can instantly obtain information regarding the accredited Internet pharmacies.

Once an online pharmacy becomes accredited, an annual review and reaccreditation process is conducted. Follow-up site surveys are scheduled with the pharmacies, which are visited once every three years to ensure they continue to comply with the VIPPS criteria.

Implementation of the VIPPS program was just the beginning of the Association's battle against rogue Internet sites selling drugs. NABP continues to develop ways to further protect the public health from unscrupulous sites. In January 2009, NABP launched the Veterinary-Verified Internet Pharmacy Practice Sites(TM) (Vet-VIPPS)(TM) program, which serves as a means to evaluate and accredit legitimately operating online veterinary pharmacy practice sites that dispense medications for companion animals as well as non-food producing animals and ensure that a patient/client relationship exists. This program was developed to assist the states in their efforts to maintain control over the Internet-based distribution of prescription drugs and devices for non-food producing animals as well as hold Internet veterinary pharmacies accountable for meeting patient/client safety practice standards. The Vet-VIPPS criteria, which is based on the Association's original VIPPS criteria, also incorporates new criteria specific to veterinary pharmacies.

Additionally, NABP received an Award of Excellence in the first round of the 2009 Associations Advance America Awards program, a national competition sponsored by the American Society of Association Executives & The Center for Association Leadership, for NABP's efforts to educate patients on the potential dangers of buying medicine online and empower them to make informed choices. As part of its initiative, NABP created the Internet Pharmacies section of its Web site where NABP lists the Not Recommended Internet drug outlets that do not appear to meet state and federal laws and NABP patient safety and pharmacy practice standards, as well as the Recommended sites encompassing those Web sites that are VIPPS accredited.

For a listing of VIPPS accredited pharmacies and more information on the programs mentioned above, visit the NABP Web site at http://www.nabp.net. A detailed article on the VIPPS anniversary is also available in the March 2009 NABP Newsletter accessible in the Newsletters section of the Web site.

NABP is the independent, international, and impartial Association that assists its member boards and jurisdictions in developing, implementing, and enforcing uniform standards for the purpose of protecting the public health.


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SOURCE National Association of Boards of Pharmacy
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