in every six Americans purchases prescriptions through online portals and with
such an expansive footprint, the industry has become a breeding ground for
illegal activity. This is where The Center for Safe Internet Pharmacies, or CSIP, comes into play. The
nonprofit organization, chartered in 2011, seeks to help Internet industry
leaders find new ways to address the growing problem of consumer access to
illegitimate pharmaceutical products on the Internet. CSIP is made up of 12
major companies, including eNom, working in tandem to eradicate illegal online
pharmacies and to set a precedent for other companies around the globe. Through this partnership, eNom has suspended
thousands of domains operating illegally and flagging them to authorities.
caught up with CSIP Executive Director, Marjorie Clifton, to discuss how CSIP’s
model for voluntary corporate participation is stemming the tide of illegal
online practices, and how beneficial this process can be for the wellbeing of
the public in the face of new gTLDs emerging this year.
eNom: Tell us about the philosophy behind the
creation of CSIP.
Clifton: Although many consumers think they know the
difference between a real website and a fake pharmacy site, the difference
between the two can really be quite subtle. CSIP’s philosophy is based on four
pillars meant to engage and inform the average consumer about the need to find
safe and certified channels when buying prescription drugs online as well as
finding ways that companies involved in the online sales ecosystem can help
prevent rogue sellers from appearing online.
The four pillars of our
organization include: the creation of a data sharing tool, collaboration with
law enforcement, consumer education and engagement, and the creation of a white
list (essentially, a list of safe pharmacies).
Recently, we collaborated with the FDA and other government agencies to
disband criminal rings and coordinate sting operations to find illegal
eNom: How are you educating consumers as to the
Clifton: CSIP has found success through social and Search
Engine Marketing (SEM) engagement.
Advertising through search engines is a really effective way to thwart illegal
online pharmaceutical sales because it’s meeting consumers as they are looking to make a transaction. CSIP search engine ads are getting double the
click through rate of the average search ad, which shows that consumers are
really looking for good information and that the public wants to be safe.
We also run public
service announcements, participate in conferences, and engage audiences on our
active Twitter and Facebook page - all of which put the problem of illegal
online pharmacies in front of the consumer, right at their door.
eNom: As the internet name space is expected to
exponentially grow larger with the arrival of new gTLDs, how does this impact
Clifton: With the arrival of new gTLDs we’re seeing
increased interest from stakeholders, including the registries, to police these
new name spaces in a very proactive way and to also come up with new
practices. A widely known registrar like
eNom, that encourages and leads others to support us, is great because it gets
others to follow suit. The domain name services industry has the opportunity to
help make online pharmaceutical transactions safer for consumers, and that’s
why we need really good leadership like eNom. We’re excited to have that
thought leadership and desire to set a global trend.
With the support of
eNom and our other partners, we are hoping to meet our goal of eliminating
illegal online pharmaceutical sales within the near future. At the end of the day, success for us would
be to become obsolete in five to ten years.