Earlier this month, the Obama administration’s inter-agency strategy to reduce counterfeit and other illegal prescription pharmaceuticals was released. Enforcing U.S. intellectual property rights is part of the administration’s efforts to rebuild the American economy, create jobs and increase exports; combating counterfeit or illegal pharmaceuticals is an important aspect of this endeavor.
The strategy outlined a multi-channel approach to deal with the problem of “rogue” online pharmacies. Specifically regarding the online component, White House Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator Victoria Espinel challenged the private sector to voluntarily participate in the effort to address rogue online pharmacies responsible for distributing illegal pharmaceuticals. In response to this challenge, companies such as American Express, eNom, GoDaddy, Google, MasterCard, Microsoft, Network Solutions, Neustar, PayPal, Visa, and Yahoo! agreed to support a non-profit group that will be formed later this year to educate the public and start taking voluntary enforcement action against illegal Internet pharmacies.
Illegal online pharmacies pose a threat to American intellectual property, but also to the health and wellbeing of consumers. It is encouraging to see the Obama administration and these companies taking positive steps toward shutting down distributors of illegal pharmaceuticals.
While CADNA supports the administration’s taking action to address the issue of illegal online pharmacies, we also have to wonder why ICANN has not stepped up and taken more responsibility for resolving this problem. Despite its unique role in Internet governance, ICANN has continually refused to become involved with regulating any content that appears on websites, even when that content is obviously harmful to Internet users around the world.