In the article “How an Online Pharmacy Sold Millions Worth Of Dubious COVID-19 Drugs — While Patients Paid the Price,” TIME turned to government and regulatory affairs partner Libby Baney for insight on a recent case involving Ravkoo, a digital pharmacy, and the impact on consumers who sought to fill prescriptions online during the pandemic.
Baney, who is also a senior adviser to the nonprofit Alliance for Safe Online Pharmacies (ASOP), said the case of Ravkoo is a cautionary tale for a burgeoning industry. For example, according to an ASOP report from last year, the publication stated that there were more than 35,000 online pharmacies operating worldwide, and 96% were violating state or federal law and relevant pharmacy practice standards.
“Click here, chat with a doctor in some jurisdiction and get a prescription. Maybe it gets dispensed to you from some source, but maybe it doesn’t,” noted Baney. “That kind of business model can really confuse patients and ultimately cause harm.”
Further, TIME outlined how LegitScript, a provider of third-party certification of healthcare companies, told the publication that it had revoked Ravkoo’s certification on Aug. 26. Ravkoo also said that it was no longer affiliated with America’s Frontline Doctors and Speak With An MD.
How Ravkoo will replace the business those groups brought in is unclear, but there is little stopping them from rebranding again, explained Baney. “We’re so used to buying things on the internet right now that it’s hard to educate consumers on the risk because the pandemic has pounded into our heads that it’s okay to buy everything online,” she added.