US to target fake online pill pedlars

Online stores that sell fake drugs or pills without prescriptions are being targeted by the US government.
It has set up an initiative that will try to shut down the web stores and educate people about the dangers of buying drugs from such places.

Search firms, payment providers and net hosting firms have all pledged to help the crackdown.
Research suggests about 36 million Americans have bought medicines from unlicensed web pharmacies.
"Those who sell prescription drugs online without a valid prescription are operating illegally, undercutting the laws that were put in place to protect patients, and are thereby endangering the public health," said Victoria Espinel, US intellectual property enforcement co-ordinator, in a statement.

"It is a real wake-up call that so many Americans have engaged in this dangerous behaviour," she said.
Web firms joining the initiative include search giant Google, domain registration firm Network Solutions, hosting companies as well as payment processors Paypal, Visa and Mastercard.

Together, the firms hope to tackle every link in the chain that keeps unlicensed pharmacies operating by stopping them showing up in search results, taking their websites offline, delisting the domains they use and stopping payments reaching them.

Many spammers align with online pharmacies and direct those who click on links in junk mail to the pedlars of fake pills.

The commercial partners in the initiative will also share information with law enforcement agencies and fund public awareness campaigns of the dangers of buying drugs from unlicensed pharmacies.