Bing to warn customers about the threats of fake online pharmacies

Update 3/28/19:

Bing Search is furthering its commitment to provide users with trustworthy results and will block all rogue online pharmacies listed on the FDA’s Internet Pharmacy Warning Letters site from its U.S. search results.  The FDA, as the predominate federal regulatory body for the pharmaceutical industry in the U.S., curates this public list of online pharmacies engaged in illegal and unsafe practices such as selling unapproved prescription drugs of unknown origin, and offering prescription drugs without a prescription.  Bing will continue to provide warning banners for other potentially dangerous online pharmacies identified by industry groups, like the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy, and Bing continues to update this warning language to find the most effective messaging. Although the language may continue to evolve, as of this writing, the warning language reads: “The National Association of Boards of Pharmacy (NABP) includes this site on its Not Recommended list. We recommend you learn more and verify your pharmacy before making online health purchases.  The FDA has more information at BeSafeRx - Know Your Online Pharmacy

Although Bing will continue to work hard to partner with third party experts to identify unsafe online pharmacies, we recognize that the Internet is always dynamically changing, and so it is impossible for third party experts to maintain complete lists of unsafe sites.  Because of this, and to ensure users understand the limitations of any warning program, Bing has also updated our PSA to help make sure our users know that even if there is no warning associated with an online pharmacy site in our search results, that they should not assume the online pharmacy is safe.  The updated PSA also provides resources where our users can learn more on how to make safe online health purchases.  We expect the exact text of the PSA may continue to evolve, but as of this writing, our updated PSA looks like this: 

We believe this combination of efforts will be most effective in appropriately informing and protecting our users from online dangers in this space.  However, Bing is always striving to provide the most accurate and helpful information to our users, and we will continue to evolve these programs in ways that may improve upon them. 

Update 11/12/18:  

Bing Search is currently expanding the Bing warnings program to include thousands of additional sites that have been identified by the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy® (NABP®) as “Not Recommended Sites,” which the NABP states includes “internet drug outlets that appear to be out of compliance with state or federal laws or NABP patient safety and pharmacy practice standards.”  Under this new collaboration with NABP, the following pop up warning will appear when a user attempts to access any of the sites identified on the NABP Not Recommended list:


If you visited a site that is suspicious but not listed on the Not Recommended list, or if you believe your website is mistakenly included on the Not Recommended List, please contact NABP (contact information is provided here). 

As part of our ongoing work to ensure the Bing warnings program is as effective as possible, we have also updated the FDA warning described in our original post below.  This new warning box will continue to appear to Bing users who have clicked on a pharmaceutical site that has been cited by the FDA as a fake online pharmacy engaged in illegal activity:


It can be tricky to determine which pharmaceutical websites are legitimate, so you may also want to check out this information at the Center for Safe Internet Pharmacies (CSIP) before buying any pharmaceuticals online.

Original Post 8/6/15: 

It can be tricky to determine which pharmaceutical websites are legitimate, so you may also want to check out this information at the Center for Safe Internet Pharmacies (CSIP) before buying any pharmaceuticals online.

Picture Fred, a 60-year-old man who has a few medical conditions. One of his prescriptions has run out but instead of visiting his regular doctor for a renewal, he decides to search the web where he finds several online pharmacies. One of these makes available a new drug, which is said to work better than his current prescription, and it is cheaper. He buys it. All is well until Fred starts experiencing some serious side effects. These side effects are what stopped the new drug from being approved by the FDA for sale in the United States.

While Fred and his specific situation is fictional, this scenario and others like it are very real. The proliferation of online pharmacies, some of which are engaged in illegal and illegitimate practices, can pose a real threat to consumers.

When there is a significant risk of serious harm to the public from purchasing unsafe, counterfeit and other illegal drugs online, the Bing team wants to help our users make informed decisions. With this goal in mind, we are rolling out a new set of warnings on to give our customers more information about the dangers of visiting unsafe online pharmacies.

warning_picThis warning will appear if a Bing user clicks on a pharmaceutical site that has been cited by the FDA as a fake online pharmacy engaged in illegal activity, such as offering potentially dangerous, unapproved and misbranded prescription drugs to U.S. consumers. We will be using the FDA’s public list of these sites, which is updated on an ongoing basis.

We currently use similar warnings for sites that are reasonably suspected of containing malware. As with malware, we will not prevent a user from visiting the site. However, the warning will caution users of the risks, and provide links to resources where the user can learn more about selecting a safe online pharmacy. We want to make sure that the information and warnings we provide are accurate. If the owners of an affected site believe they have been wrongly included on the FDA’s public list, that company has the ability to address this with the FDA directly by contacting the FDA Internet Pharmacy Task Force. Any site that believes Bing may have made an error with a warning appearing in its search results can contact us at Bing Support.

The list of online pharmaceutical sites for which we are providing warnings will grow and evolve. We will continue to refine our efforts in this area and look for more opportunities to help our users make more well-informed decisions as additional, highly-reliable sources of information become available to us.

The Bing team welcomes your feedback. Visit Bing Listens or tweet @Bing to let us know your thoughts.

-The Bing Team