One of the central elements of legitimacy in the Internet pharmacy world is transparency: if you are a patient, you can easily identify the dispensing pharmacy and its location. In this blog, we take a look at a small network of about 15 websites, and try to untangle who they are and what’s really going on.
LegitScript refers to this small group of Internet pharmacies as the “KeySecure” network, because the websites all utilize keysecure.com to process orders and payments. The fifteen or so Internet pharmacies in this network include websites like rxeurope.com, eurodrugs.co.uk, and reductil.co.uk, which offer to dispense prescription drugs without a valid prescription. (Reductil is a controlled substance.)
Here’s a transcript of the chat we just had with rxeurope.com. (Keep in mind that a legitimate Internet pharmacy should never have anything to hide.)
You are now speaking with Renee of Customer Support.
Customer: Hello, I have a question about your pharmacy
Renee: HI! How can I help?
Customer: Are you able to ship to the US?
Renee: Unfortunately, not at this time. Your Customs Dept. has been holding and returning all of our orders!
Customer: Oh. IS your pharmacy in the UK then?
Customer: Is it possible to get the license number and name of the pharmacy?
Renee: Are you a current customer?
Customer: No, but I’d like to know which pharmacy dispenses your drugs, to verify that it is appropriately licensed in the jurisdictions it ships to, and is otherwise complying with the required laws and regulations.
Renee: Of course, our pharmacy is appropriately licensed.
Customer: Would it be possible for you to identify the pharmacy so that I can confirm this?
Renee: We are happy to disclose our pharmacy’s information to an existing customer.
Customer: Could you explain the reasons why you won’t disclose the dispensing pharmacy? If they are appropriately licensed, and not in violation of any drug safety or prescription drug requirements in the jurisdictions in which they do business, I’m sure that there’s nothing to hide; correct?
Customer: Could you please identify the dispensing pharmacy for your website?
Renee: I am sorry but if I cannot assist you with an existing order, I have to refer you to our customer service department at [email protected]
Customer: Wait a minute. If you are appropriately licensed, why would US Customs seize your shipments?
Your party has left this session.
So what’s really going on here? First, rxeurope.co.uk (which also uses KeySecure to process orders) is registered to “Jamie Quinn,” registered as “World Medical UK” with nominet.co.uk (the co.uk registrar). James Quinn, in fact, is the licensed pharmacist for White Pharmacy in the UK, a separate website (whitepharmacy.co.uk) for which is approved by the Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain.
But wait…one of the KeySecure websites is called reductil.co.uk and offers Reductil for sale. Not only is that a controlled substance, but it was recently banned in Europe. It can’t lawfully be prescribed or dispensed. So if these websites are claiming to utilize a licensed UK pharmacy, how is that possible?
The short answer is, it’s not.
Just look at rxeurope.co.uk, where we see the following language:
Good News – if you reside outside of the UK we can also have your Tramadol tablets delivered overnight from our network of pharmacies outside the United Kingdom.
So, here’s what’s happening. A licensed UK pharmacy may control the website, but that does not mean that they actually dispense the drugs. Often times, it seems, they simply allow their license to be used, perhaps for a fee, by the illicit pharmacy. If a domain name registrar or ISP receives a complaint about the website, the pharmacy can show them that license, all the while failing to disclose that it doesn’t necessarily mean that the pharmacy is actually dispensing the drugs.
What’s more, the websites tacitly admit that they are not legitimate, by virtue of conceding that their prescription drug orders shipped into the US are being seized by Customs. (Why would Customs seize the drugs if there wasn’t a problem?)
This is a recurring problem with some UK companies. A pharmacy will adhere to UK laws, but then use that veneer of legitimacy to help other “pharmacies” facilitate violating the laws of other countries, including shipping drugs unlawfully, as evidenced by rxeurope.com’s own admission to us that they have been shipping drugs to the US that Customs seizes and sends back, and the public offering of a controlled substance banned in the EU (and, banned in the US without a valid prescription).
And where the drugs (in particular, the Reductil banned in the UK) actually come from? We invite reductil.co.uk and/or White Pharmacy to let us know.