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While some Internet pharmacies are legitimate businesses that offer consumers a safe and convenient way to purchase their prescription drugs, the FDA and the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy (NABP) have reported that thousands are fraudulent enterprises. Among other things, these rogue Internet pharmacies often sell counterfeit or otherwise substandard drugs. Consumers have experienced health problems as a result of purchasing drugs from rogue Internet pharmacies, and the proliferation and patronage of such entities has rendered them a public health threat. A number of federal and state agencies share responsibility for administering and enforcing laws related to Internet pharmacies, including the FDA, DOJ, CBP, and ICE, as well as state boards of pharmacy.
This statement is based on the GAO's July 2013 report, entitled "Internet Pharmacies: Federal Agencies and States Face Challenges Combating Rogue Sites, Particularly Those Abroad" (GAO-13-560). In this report, the GAO identified (1) how rogue sites violate federal and state laws, (2) challenges federal agencies face in investigating and prosecuting operators, (3) efforts to combat rogue Internet pharmacies, and (4) efforts to educate consumers about the risks of purchasing prescription drugs online.