FDA Takes Action Against Over 1,050 Illegal Rx Drug Websites

June 19, 2015 in News

On Thursday, FDA announced that it had taken action against more than 1,050 websites that illegally sell prescription drugs and medical devices, Reuters reports (Bengaluru, Reuters, 6/18).  

Online Pharmacy Risks

The sale of counterfeit drugs can pose a threat to consumers’ health because they often:

  • Are manufactured in unsanitary conditions;
  • Contain incorrect dosages and ingredients or poisons; and
  • Do not contain the correct active pharmaceutical ingredients.

The issue is difficult to address because the scope of the Internet makes it hard to identify online pharmacies selling counterfeit medications. In addition, the pharmacies sell products directly to consumers, making it nearly impossible for consumers to know whether a website and the drugs it is selling are legitimate (iHealthBeat, 3/6/2014).

Details of FDA Action

According to the release, the action — called Operation Pangea VIII — was part of the Eighth Annual International Internet Week of Action and involved multiple offices within FDA, as well as law enforcement, customs and regulatory authorities from 115 countries. The enforcement action took place from June 9 to June 16 (FDA release, 6/18).

FDA said it screened and seized parcels of illegal prescription drugs and medical devices sent through international mailing facilities in Chicago, Miami and New York.

The prescription drugs seized included those claiming to be the generic versions of:

  • Advair Diskus;
  • Meridia;
  • Nolvadex;
  • Truvada; and
  • Valium.

Meanwhile, the devices targeted in the enforcement action included:

  • Colon care products; and
  • Dermal fillers.

FDA also sent warning letters to operators of about 400 websites selling unapproved or misbranded medications and nine companies selling unapproved medical devices online (Reuters, 6/18).

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