back to article Dot Pharmacy: New web weapon in war on duff drug peddlers

An American trade group wants to create top-level domain name .pharmacy to stem the sale of bogus medicines online. The National Association of Boards of Pharmacy (NABP) will file the application with internet policymaker ICANN, according to FairWinds Partners, a domain name consulting firm. "The goal of .pharmacy is to …


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  1. ratfox Silver badge

    Off to register,, and whatever I will think of in the next ten minutes...

    1. Anonymous Coward 15
      Paris Hilton


      (Yeah, it's probably already gone, but I ain't checking because I'm at work.)

  2. JeffyPooh

    Already a counter-measure for phony drugs

    There's a use-once barcode (Smartphone) or number (SMS) tracking system that tracks each drug package to ensure that it's used only once. The system, being closed loop, more-or-less ends the possibility of profitably making phoney drugs.

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Re: Already a counter-measure for phony drugs

      So what's to stop phony drug makers from using phony barcodes? Or simply ignoring them by using a generic name or an alternate branding?

    2. big_D Silver badge
      Black Helicopters

      Re: Already a counter-measure for phony drugs

      They don't want to stop "phony" drugs, so much as legitimate, cheap generic versions of drugs which are going/ have gone out of patent. The US drug companies are scared their sacred cash cows are going to die and leave them struggling...

      Hence the re-patenting of drugs which are about to expire for "new" purposes. Evidently, they aren't patenting just the chemical formula of the drug, but also its application as well. Every time they can find a new application, instead of researching a new drug, they save money and prolong the life of their cash cow by another couple of decades.

      Cheap, legitimate alternatives are a big problem for the US drug companies and they have managed to con the US that generics are dangerous and should be banned.

  3. Charles 9 Silver badge

    So... intend to set up servers in the Bahamas? And then register with that country's TLD?

    Anyway, like I noticed for the pending .bank domain, this plan looks like a pretty good way of using TLDs for legitimate purposes. The industry in question polices its own TLD and vouches for all of its sites being legitimate, bona fide, and adhering to a code of conduct (including security scrutiny). If the standards are kept high enough, this could actually be a good thing.

    1. Lee Dowling Silver badge

      Re: So...

      You're forgetting. The world isn't just America. So who gets to decide what's classified as a pharmacy and what's not? Who gets the .pharmacy marker and who doesn't? Where can those businesses legally trade in the world (i.e. can someone legitimately "steal" or similar and hold it to ransom over the rest of the world that uses that brand name)?

      It's a silly idea. No sillier than all the others (".bank"? Really?) but still silly. It's the Internet equivalent of a designer tag on your shoes. Ten times the price, only to those who pay the premium and no advantage.

      If .pharmacy (or even ever exists, do you think that everyone in the world will only look there, and that they can trust everything that's there, and that's it's even vaguely relevant to the country they are in, or that they'll bother to check?

      .TLD's are a worthless status symbol, designed to generate money for ICANN. I work somewhere that has a .mobi. It's never been used. The mobile site is actually on our main domain (a, which is in itself inaccurate for us), but we had to have the .mobi "so that someone else doesn't".

      Have you got a name? Can people access it? That's about all that matters. You don't need seven billion TLD's that all say the same thing or "describe their function" (because they never do!) when one, well-advertised, works just as well. How many com's are international companies, how many are UK non-profit organisations? And if you CAN enforce it globally, who decides who is allocated "", whether that's a legitimate museum or not, and who's going to risk the row of blocking/allowing it? And if there is no controversy, what makes you think people are going to know about or even touch .pharmacy compared to any other TLD (I just did my first visit to a .something which wasn't com, org, net or a country TLD just now!).

      I think I would avoid any pharmacy on principle that used it (not that I would buy pharmaceuticals online anyway, or think that's even close to a good idea). It means they spent a lot of money and certification process to be in something that's completely useless, and that would filter down into their prices too.

    2. frank ly

      Re: So...

      The NABP represent American pharmacy groups. This would be an ideal mechanism to prevent competition from medication resellers who are not part of the NABP group (I did not say 'cartel').

      I make this comment as a UK resident who regularly purchases essential medication from a foreign internet pharmacy, at a price much lower that I can get in the UK. I can imagine the consequences for me if UK pharmacy trade groups took similar action.

  4. frank ly

    "... fight the unlicensed sale of counterfeit treatments online."

    As opposed to the *licensed* sale of counterfeit treatments, which isn't mentioned so it must be ok.

    1. Tom 35

      Re: "... fight the unlicensed sale of counterfeit treatments online."

      And don't forget the grey market sale of real drugs online.

  5. tkioz
    Thumb Up

    I can see it as a useful tool, if the UN wasn't such a useless bureaucratic mess this sort of thing would be perfect for it, but as it stands a multi-national body would work well.

    Frankly I don't really see the point of buying medication online, then again I'm Australian and our PBS lets me afford pretty much any medication I could ever need over the counter... so it's not a big deal to me... I guess it's similar in other countries with socialised medicine... you know civilised countries...

    But I could see it as a decent working solution for countries where the dollar rules, and hey it's not like it would be mandatory.

    1. BristolBachelor Gold badge

      I don't understand your point at all. Surely they should just use "", and it's nothing to do with the UN ?

      Given that their ".pharmacy" TLD is a global one, all attempts to register will fail in at least 1 country... (for example, I believe that there are no allowed online pharm suppliers for the UK; unless you count the funny "memory water" that has been diluted so many times that it can't remember being anything except water)

      1. graeme leggett

        First tab - "prescriptions and online doctor"

        lots of others.

        1. frank ly

          @graeme leggett

 is the online portal for llyods Pharmacy which is a UK registered business with headquarters in the UK. As such, it is part of the UK 'pharmacy association' (I did not say 'cartel').

          The UK authorities do not allow presence or .com registration via UK registrars for any pharmacy that is not part of the UK pharmacy group of companies (I did not say 'cartel').

          Up until two years ago, the online pharmacy I use had a address. That address disappeared and I now have to use a 'foreign' address (same company, same location, not allowed to use

          So, I still get my cheap meds as long as the price comes in at less than the £15 VAT threshold, so I order more often.

    2. Tom 35

      In Canada we get Bus loads from the US

      Who come up on a day trip to fill prescriptions that are available as generic in Canada (drug patents last longer in the US). They are mostly seniors and can save hundreds a month. But that only works for people near the boarder, but the US treats any Pharmacy in Canada that offers service online or by phone the same as the fake viagra sellers, even if they only do renewals for the bus people.

  6. Vic

    Oh, good grief...

    > FairWinds said the .pharmacy gTLD would be subject to ongoing monitoring for compliance

    And that's not going to raise the value of DNS-changing malware at all :-(

    Why do people not understand that accreditation-by-domain-name is complete nonsense until and unless DNS is fully replaced by something more secure?


    1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

      Re: Oh, good grief...

      Like so many things the sticking plaster is preferred to a real solution because it offers so many opportunities: "Verified by SomeDodgyBunch" badges make money.

    2. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Re: Oh, good grief...

      I believe that's what the DNSSEC transition is going to fix, and it's already well underway.

      1. Vic

        Re: Oh, good grief...

        > I believe that's what the DNSSEC transition is going to fix

        Yes, that's the plan for DNSSEC. It's a plan...

        > it's already well underway.

        I would certainly not describe it as such.

        DNSSEC in its current form is some 15 years old. Now do a straw poll of the sites you use to see how many of them actually use it.

        DNSSEC has started. It will be a long, long time before DNS is totally gone. In the meantime, braindead ideas like this ".pharmacy" one will spring up and create a completely false sense of security.


        1. Charles 9 Silver badge

          Re: Oh, good grief...

          Okay, so it's been slow going, but as has been pointed out, DNS-poisoning exploits showing up in the wild lent some urgency to the matter. Nothing like a fire at your feet to make you dance, is there?

          1. Vic

            Re: Oh, good grief...

            > Nothing like a fire at your feet to make you dance, is there?

            Your argument misses one vital piece of information: huge numbers of people just don't care.

            Of course they should care. Of course this affects them. Of course this is a simple solution to a serious problem.

            But most consumers don't care. They just want cheap services. So the piss-poor ones are the only ones that get revenue.

            To get people to care, we don't need "exploits in the wild". We need Farcebook to get taken for the day. The fabric of the INternet could crumble with most people barely caring - but if they can't post photos of cats to their mates, then all hell will break loose...


            1. P. Lee Silver badge

              Re: Oh, good grief...

              True, people go to foreign sites *because* they are cheaper. Competition sucks, eh?

              But we can't go after consumers anyway. The RIAA showed us that.

              What we can do is coerce US pharmacies to sign up, then lean on the search engines to block all drug sites not in the .pharmacy domain.

              Sure it won't work, but someone somewhere will have a nice CEO job for a while and implement some large impressive project for his CV. We'll issue some shares and use someone else's money and it will decline into obscurity having given the politician of the day a nice photo op.

              We are "creating markets" and "promoting commerce."

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    lady killed 24th March in Italy by 'fake' drugs

    a clinic bought SORBITOL off eBay (ffs!) and injected it as part of a clinical test, unsurprisingly the solution seems to have been contaminated by Sodium/Potassium Nitrate and led to death.

    (news reports since the death seem to indicate that the lady herself bought it and had an adverse reaction. Disinfo! it's one thing for end-users to fall for fake marketing/fake products for homeopathic end-use stuff that are fake anyway - but it's another thing for Health Providers to source their drugs via random methods. 3 people are being investigated for their part in this death)

    It has been said "all drugs are deadly poisons, and all administrations are deadly poisoning... it's just the dose that matters" At least dot.Pharma might have a more trusted, believable list of contents/ingredients...

    with the new UK Heath reforms - maybe we need dot.Pharma trusted sources before profit/growth in the newNHS becomes king

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Let me fix that for you

    "The goal of .pharmacy is to provide pharmacists, doctors, nurses, caregivers, patients and others a secure space in which to search for information about or purchase prescription drugs online without having to worry about cybercrime or receiving counterfeit drugs," FairWinds said in a blog post.

    Or more accurately:-

    "The goal of .pharmacy is extort cash from pharmacists by convincing , doctors, nurses,caregivers, patients and others that only .pharmacy domains offer a secure space in which to search for information about or purchase prescription drugs online without having to worry about cybercrime or receiving counterfeit drugs,"

    ICANN generic top level domain racket - raising the cost of business for everyone.

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