The findings were based on spam for six leading drug brands: three of the highest-selling med ranked by Drugs.com and three of the most frequently searched online. Drugs weren't named, but presumably this includes meds for erectile dysfunction and depression.
â€œThe data shows brandjackers are profoundly exploiting brands, using increasingly sophisticated tactics, and, in the case of the pharmaceutical industry, posing an outright danger to consumers through questionable practices that indicate counterfeiting and gray markets,â€ says Irfan Salim, president and chief executive officer of MarkMonitor, in a statement. The consulting firm specializes in protecting brands from online risks and, of course, is 'phishing' for business. Yes, drugmakers are clients.
This is likely to inflame the debate over reimportation. Remember Marcia Bergeron? The 58-year-old Vancouver resident died in December and a determined she was killed by a combination of fake meds she ordered over the Internet. Here are a few key findings...
- Of 3,160 online pharmacies, only four are accredited as Verified Internet Pharmacy Practice Sites (VIPPS), the industry credential that assures consumers of legitimate online operations; - 10 percent of the online pharmacies studied clearly state no prescription is required to purchase the drugs;
- 59 percent were hosted in the US, followed by the UK, which hosted 18 percent;
- 31 percent of exchange site listings originated in China followed by 26 percent in the US and 19 percent in India;
- Most don't use SSL encryption and more than 20 percent of post-purchase emails contained links to unencrypted customer data;
- One-third generate enough traffic to merit an Alexa ranking. Each of these sites sees an average of 32,000 visitors daily. Using industry statistics for traffic conversion and average order sizes, MarkMonitor estimates that this traffic converts to $4 billion in annual sales for the six drug brands studied.
- Representative sampling of pricing for one popular drug brand shows an average of $10.85 for VIPPS-accredited sites in contrast to an average price of $2.72 for non-accredited sites. These deep discounts are significantly higher than the known channel allowance and strongly point to questionable drug products.