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General availability for applicants begins on June 3
Having won the responsibility to manage the dot-pharmacy domain name from the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) last year, the National Assn. of Boards of Pharmacy (NABP; Mt. Prospect, IL) is now well along in establishing practices and standards for organizations applying to use “.pharmacy” in their Web address. Organizations that had previously been accredited by NABP as VIPPS (Verified Internet Pharmacy Practice Sites; there is an equivalent Vet-VIPPS for veterinary pharmacy sites, and an “e-Advertiser” program for certain pharmacies) have already been eligible to acquire the dot-pharmacy domain. Going forward, any pharmacy that meets the eligibility requirements of the new program (as well as pharmacy benefit managers, colleges of pharmacy, wholesalers and even manufacturers) can now apply. The eligibility criteria are listed at www.dotpharmacy.net. NABP will be working with the International Pharmaceutical Federation (FIP; The Hague, Netherlands) and others to accredit organizations outside the US.
NABP has also authorized the first domain registry provider, EnCirca (Boston), where domain names and addresses will be reserved. The registration process is not cheap, at least relative to consumers or small businesses registering domain names: EnCirca will charge $1,049 for the first year, after a $2,000 initial application fee to NABP. “There’s more work involved with this process than a typical ICANN registration,” notes Tom Barrett, president of EnCirca, citing the process by which NABP sends an authorizing token to EnCirca after an applicant has passed muster with NABP.
The overall goal remains the same: to drive drug purchasers and patients toward officially recognized dot-pharmacy sites, and away from the rogue online pharmacies that operate outside most national drug-dispensing programs, and are a source of counterfeit or diverted products.