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News & Updates

The Latest on Internet Pharmacies, Supplements, Designer Drugs, and Other High-Risk Merchants

LegitScript’s Internet pharmacy certification program will become a paid one in 2016. Here’s why.

LegitScript’s Internet pharmacy certification program, which has been available to pharmacies for free since 2008, will transition to being a paid program in January 2016. This blog explains why we’re making that change.

In essence, the reason is pretty simple: LegitScript’s certification program is continuing to grow, and as the number of applicants increases, there’s a certain point at which “free” becomes unsustainable — we need to ensure that we have dedicated sufficient resources to meet demand. Historically, LegitScript has offered the program at no cost to applicants, and all operating costs came directly from our own budget. Every year since we launched the program in 2008, I’ve said that I’d like for LegitScript to continue offering certification for free as long as we can, but that there would likely come a day when that would no longer be practical. That day, as they say, is nigh.

To shed a little more light on it, there are a few things that we’ve seen in 2015 that we are likely to continue to see in the years ahead. First, we’ve witnessed a growing reliance on LegitScript’s program by payment processors (including banks), insurance companies, and Internet companies. Second (and consequentially), LegitScript has experienced an increase in the number of applications we receive. Third, a growing number of those have complex issues, such as compounding or nuclear pharmacy practice, that require lengthier analysis. 

For all of those reasons, in January 2016, we’ll introduce a pricing structure for LegitScript certification and ongoing monitoring that allows us to maintain the program going forward.

The Value of LegitScript Certification

The good news is that the increased demand for LegitScript certification reflects its growing value. For example:

  • Online pharmacies certified by LegitScript are likely to have an easier time acquiring and maintaining a merchant account than those pharmacies that are not certified; additionally, some banks will not require LegitScript-certified online pharmacies to pay the higher fees associated with being a “high-risk merchant” (as pharmacy merchants usually are).
  • Access to potentially lower insurance costs.
  • Reduced barriers to entry to some major e-commerce or online advertising services.
  • Many of LegitScript’s key partners — such as Bing, Google, Visa and others — use LegitScript as a patient safety tool (e.g., within Bing search results for prescription drugs).
  • Most critically, it contributes to patient and customer trust, as qualifying pharmacies are enabled to display the LegitScript Seal of Approval and be listed as “legitimate” in the LegitScript database.

Bing-LegitScript Online Pharmacy

Another valuable aspect of LegitScript’s certification process is access to our policy experts. We assist applicants in identifying areas where their online pharmacy is out of compliance and work with them to fix the problem prior to approval. We differentiate between intentionally illegal activity and that which is likely inadvertent. In the former case, we simply choose not to work with the applicant; however, in the latter case, we’re happy to use our expertise to highlight compliance issues and work with the applicant to get them corrected.

LegitScript will announce the pricing over the coming weeks. The goal is for it to be affordable and in line with the value that LegitScript certification brings. We’ll also announce how Internet pharmacies certified in 2015 will be grandfathered into the program throughout 2016 on a rolling basis.

In 2016, I’m excited to see the growth of LegitScript’s certification program, and I’m excited for the ways that it will provide value to pharmacies, patients, and third parties in the e-commerce, online advertising, and payments sectors. Stay tuned for additional information.