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Global Fight to Eradicate Illegal Internet Pharmacies - CSIP & eNom


Published on 7/16/2013

One 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.

We 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.

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eNomTell 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 pharmaceutical networks.

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eNom:  How are you educating consumers as to the difference?

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.

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eNom:  As the internet name space is expected to exponentially grow larger with the arrival of new gTLDs, how does this impact CSIP?

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.