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Internet Pharmacies and Applicable Laws

A website is designated by LegitScript as an Internet pharmacy website if the website facilitates the sale or dispensing of a prescription drug, either via the website or by directing the Internet user to another website.

In determining legitimacy classifications, LegitScript applies the applicable laws to LegitScript International Internet Pharmacy Verification Standards. In this context, "applicable laws" refers to both the laws and regulations where the website operates from (e.g., dispenses or supplies medicines from) and the laws and regulations of any jurisdiction where the website offers to ship drugs to. Internet pharmacy websites must adhere to the laws and regulations in both sets of jurisdictions. (If an Internet pharmacy website is not fully legal in a particular jurisdiction, that area should simply be removed from the list of possible shipping destinations.)

Legitimate Internet Pharmacy Websites

Websites designated by LegitScript as legitimate as those that have been through our verification process and are confirmed to meet LegitScript standards. Legitimate Internet pharmacy websites are monitored on an ongoing basis with quarterly reviews and are subject to a full re-review on at least an annual basis.

Please see LegitScript Internet Pharmacy Verification Standards for additional information.

Rogue Internet Pharmacy Website Criteria

A failure to comply with LegitScript’s Internet pharmacy certification standards does not necessarily mean that the website is a rogue Internet pharmacy. For example, if the lack of compliance is minor or appears unintentional, a website may be designated as "unapproved" but not "rogue."

The literal definition of "rogue" in this context is "operating outside normal or desirable controls." (See, e.g., thefreedictionary.com/rogue.) Because the practice of pharmacy and sale of drugs should be, and are normally, regulated for safety, websites that facilitate the sale of drugs in a way that is not subject to sufficient regulatory oversight may be considered "rogue."

LegitScript often recommends that domain name registrars, Internet service providers, payment facilitators and other third-party platforms consider disabling services to websites designated as "rogue" Internet pharmacies upon direct verification by LegitScript that the website is not legally compliant.

A website is a rogue Internet pharmacy if:

  • A primary purpose of the website is to facilitate the sale of prescription drugs or other medicinal products, whether via the website or by directing the Internet user to another website, and:
  • Such sale or dispensing of prescription or other drugs reasonably appears to intentionally or knowingly violate, facilitate the violation of, or offer to facilitate the violation of applicable laws or regulations, defined as the laws and regulations where the drugs are dispensed from or where they are offered to be shipped to.

The most common scenarios in which a website is designated as a rogue Internet pharmacy are if one or more of the following three scenarios are true:

  • The website sells prescription drugs without a valid prescription (as the term "valid prescription" is defined in LegitScript’s international Internet pharmacy certification standards), except where expressly permitted or authorized by applicable laws.
  • The website sells unapproved drugs, which includes but is not limited to drugs that are considered unapproved under applicable law by virtue of being shipped or dispensed outside of authorized drug supply chains.
  • The website facilitates the sale of drugs by pharmacies or non-pharmacy entities that do not have pharmacy licenses required under applicable laws.

Unapproved and Unverified Internet Pharmacy Websites

Most Internet pharmacies that do not comply with LegitScript international Internet pharmacy verification standards are "rogue." However, some are "unverified" or "unapproved" but not "rogue."

  • "Unverified" Internet pharmacies are those that, based on a brief, initial review, appear likely to comply with LegitScript requirements but have not been subject to the LegitScript certification process, or appear likely to be easily able to comply with our standards with minimum adjustments. "Unverified" is a neutral descriptor.
  • "Unapproved" Internet pharmacies are those for which LegitScript has verified some lack of compliance with LegitScript’s international Internet pharmacy verification standards or applicable laws or regulations, but that do not meet the definition of being "rogue."

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