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FDA cracks down on illegal online pharmacies

  • October 24, 2012
  • RPh on the Go

FDA cracks down on illegal online pharmacies

During this year’s International Internet Week of Action (IIWA), Operation Pangea V, an effort coordinated with international agencies took legal actions against more than 4,100 online pharmacies selling drugs illegally.

Task force focus

The focus of the annual initiative was internet pharmacies that sell unapproved, untested, unprescribed, and potentially dangerous drugs to consumers. INTERPOL and authorities from 100 countries participated in the effort to identify manufacturers and distributors of illegal drugs and medical devices, and shut down the illegal pipeline.

“Consumers in the United States and around the world face a real threat from Internet pharmacies that illegally sell potentially substandard, counterfeit, adulterated or otherwise unsafe medicines,” said FDA Commissioner Margaret A. Hamburg, M.D. “This week’s efforts show that strong international enforcement efforts are required to combat this global public health problem. The FDA is committed to joining forces to protect consumers from the risks these websites present.”

The strike force is still working to eliminate remaining sites and disrupt the distribution chain.

The result

More than 18,000 illegal online pharmacy sites were shut down and the various agencies seized over $10.5 million in illegal pharmaceuticals around the world.

Included in the seizure were Dompreidone, a drug removed from the US market due to serious side effects, Isoretinoin (Accutane) prescribed to treat acne in the US only under restrictions because it causes birth defects, “generic Tamiflu,” which has been tested by the FDA and found to have the wrong active ingredient, and Viagra (who hasn’t gotten those emails?), which, like all prescription-strength medications, should only be taken under a doctor’s supervision.

BeSafeRx – Know Your Online Pharmacy

In addition to chasing down the source of illegal drugs sold online, the FDA launched a national campaign designed to educate American consumers about the dangers of buying prescription medicines online. BeSafeRx – Know Your Online Pharmacy aims to raise public awareness of the health risks, teach consumers how to identify fraudulent pharmacies online, and advise consumers on how to protect themselves – and why they should. Consumers can report online pharmacies they suspect are fraudulent here.

Does this effort make a difference? As fast as they close them down, more spring up, but surely they will make a dent…right? We’d like to hear from you on this.



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