European Commission chooses a logo to validate online pharmacies

European consumers will eventually have a pan-European method of checking pharmacy legitimacy

Following through on one element of its comprehensive Falsified Medicinal Products Directive (2011/62/EU), the European Commission has selected a logo design that will appear on online-pharmacy websites and other retailers, starting roughly a year from now. The logo (pictured) is a stripe with a cross appearing in outline; the box in the middle left of the logo will have the flag of the EU country where the pharmacy is established.

Behind the logo—still to be finalized—will be a secure, encrypted link to the authorized pharmacies of each member country. Consumers will be instructed to click on the link, verify that the pharmacy is listed as a legitimate one, and then proceed with their business. This secured list is but one part of the overall Falsified Medicinal Products directive, which will include unique serial numbers on pharmaceutical packages and other security measures.

In broad strokes, the EU logo concept parallels that of the Verified Internet Pharmacy Practice (VIPPS) program run by the National Assn. of Boards of Pharmacy in the US. NABP has recently reported that almost 97% of online pharmacies it has reviewed are not in compliance with US law (which requires, among other things, to be domiciled in the US). NABP is also seeking to be the global overseer of the “.pharmacy” top-domain suffix (the words or letters following the “dot” in a website URL); but that effort appears to be progressing only slowly, given the international debate going on over the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names (ICANN) and its supra-national role.