Every day, LegitScript receives anywhere from dozens to hundreds of complaints or reports regarding suspected rogue Internet pharmacies. (If you are someone who has been letting us know about these websites, Thanks!) But what kind of information are we looking for?
First, we know that submitting reports about these websites takes time and effort, so we really appreciate the energy and commitment of those who take the time to report these dangerous sites to LegitScript. And, we think it is making a difference. When you let us know about a website, and we verify that it's a rogue Internet pharmacy, it goes into our public database, and you help other Internet users avoid that potentially dangerous website. We also classify that Internet pharmacy by the affiliate network it is part of, if any.
However, one thing that it might be helpful to know is, LegitScript – unlike some other great Internet safety organizations – isn't focused primarily on Internet pharmacy spam, but is focused a bit more on the non-spam Internet pharmacies. The key word there is primarily: we welcome the notifications about Internet pharmacy spam too, but there are several other great, and very effective, anti-spam organizations out there like SpamHaus, KnujOn, InBoxRevenge and others that are focused a bit more on spam per se than LegitScript is, and have a pretty "rapid-fire" response procedure that looks primarily at whether the website is engaged in spam, and lets the Registrar and ISP know.
By contrast, LegitScript looks a bit more to what the Internet pharmacy is doing, regardless of whether it is using spam to deliver the message. Certainly, any Internet pharmacy engaged in spam is going to be illicit; but if it doesn't engage in spam, does that mean it's safe? Well, no, not necessarily. After all, many rogue Internet pharmacy networks diversify, having some affiliates send out spam (and knowing that those domains will get shut down for spam) but promoting other affiliates via search engine optimization, refraining from spam in the hope that the websites will have a more permanent presence on the Internet. LegitScript's focus is a little bit more on that second category: the non-spam websites that are nevertheless doing bad, and dangerous, things.
Draw, for example, a distinction between two rogue Internet pharmacies: doctorjti.ru and 4Rx.com. The former, which is an affiliate of "PharmacyExpress" (aka Yorba Financials) sent out spam emails yesterday morning. As such, that particular domain name is likely to get shut down pretty quickly, not necessarily because of how it approaches pharmacy practice, but because it engaged in spam. But doctorjti.ru is a "throw-away" domain: the registrant registered thousands of domain names, knowing that few, if any, would survive in the wake of his or her spam attack. (And, as a matter of common sense, the domain name just looks spammy.)
By contrast, 4Rx.com doesn't send out spam, but it is a major rogue Internet pharmacy. It does not require a valid prescription; it does not have a valid pharmacy license where it dispenses prescription drugs; and the drugs are completely unregulated by the FDA (as to the US; or the FDA's equivalents as to foreign destinations). In short, 4Rx.com is doing all of the same illegal and dangerous things that the spamming rogue Internet pharmacies are doing, except for one thing: sending spam.
So what does that mean for rogue Internet pharmacy notifications to LegitScript? As mentioned above, we think that anything you'd like to let us know about is great, whether it's a non-spam rogue Internet pharmacy, a spammer, or even a legitimate Internet pharmacy you'd like to tell us about. But we try to do our part by focusing on the rogue Internet pharmacies that wouldn't get the attention of the anti-spam organizations quite as much.
In addition to reporting rogue Internet pharmacies to LegitScript, you may also want to consider letting the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy (NABP) know. They operate a list of "not recommended" websites, and also welcome hearing from Internet users about Internet pharmacies that appear to be out of compliance with legal and regulatory requirements.