Back in 2007 the Pharmacy.com domain name was put up for sale. The broker was quoted as saying that the domain name was worth “way over $50 million” at the time. Thanks to a tip from Brian at PharmStreet.com we now know what the domain sold for in 2008. I’ll give you a hint… it was nowhere near $50 million.
But before we get into the price, let’s talk a little about the history of the domain.
As far back as DomainTools goes the domain was owned by Rotech Healthcare, a provider of home medical equipment founded in 2002. WHOIS history records from 2001 have the registrant as “RoTech” and a technical contact of Albert Prast.
An Archive.org entry from Dec 21, 1996 has a contact email of email@example.com so it was owned by the same person before and after the company was founded. He was most likely the original registrant in 1994, but never really put the domain to good use.
Then in August 2007 the domain was put up for sale, and on November 27, 2008 Pharmacy.com finally changed hands. After the sale the domain started forwarding to CanadaDrugs.com, an online pharmacy selling discount prescription drugs. The forwarding URL had a REF in it, so it was unclear whether the buyer was CanadaDrugs.com or whether the buyer had an affiliate relationship with them.
The domain was under privacy for years after the sale, including when it moved from CSC to Fabulous, but in 2012 privacy was removed. That revealed the buyer as GDS Licensing LTD, a Barbados company that has been under investigation for selling fake anti-cancer drugs through CanadaDrugs.com. So it was not an affiliate relationship.
They allegedly sold more than $78 million in questionable drugs between 2009 and 2012, and just last year their domain was seized by the FDA’s Cybercrime Investigations Unit. I imagine the Pharmacy.com domain forwarding gave a lot of credibility to what they were doing, while also preserving the value of the domain should things go south.
In 2013 they reached back out to DigitalDNA / FairWinds, the broker who originally sold them the domain, to sell it again. Perhaps they saw the writing on the wall for their online pharmacy empire. The broker sold it to Walgreens some time between August and November of 2013 for an undisclosed price. I wasn’t able to find a reference to it in any of Walgreens’ 10-Qs or their 10-K for the year.
So how much did CanadaDrugs.com pay for Pharmacy.com in 2008? $2.3 million according to Rotech’s 10-K. A far cry from the $50 million it was said to be worth, and a drop in the bucket compared to the $78+ million in online prescription drug sales that followed.
The co-founder of the brokerage that sold Pharmacy.com to CanadaDrugs.com also co-founded the Coalition Against Domain Name Abuse (CADNA), which “is a non-profit organization dedicated to fighting against domain name abuse, particularly cybersquatting, and other illegal cyber activities”.
Michael Sumner is the CEO of NameBio.com, and is the lead developer at State Ventures which owns and operates geo domains such as OceanCity.com and Maryland.com. Michael is also the co-founder of DN Media, a company that has been involved in seven figures worth of domain name transactions.