FDA warns 465 websites selling unapproved opioids, drugs for cancer, HIV
The FDA sent warning letters this month to seven networks operating 465 websites that were selling potentially dangerous, unapproved versions of opioid, antiviral and oncology prescription drugs to U.S. consumers, according to a press release.
Investigators also intercepted 626 packages at several major U.S. airports and prohibited 794 products from entering the country.
“The sale of potentially dangerous and counterfeit drugs by criminal networks on the internet is a large and growing threat to the public health,” FDA commissioner Scott Gottlieb, MD, said in a press release.
“The illegal online pharmacies that we’re taking action against are often run by sophisticated criminal networks that knowingly and unlawfully distribute illicit drugs, including potentially counterfeit medicines and controlled substances both on the surface and dark web. Consumers go to these websites believing that they’re buying safe and effective medications. But consumers are being put at risk by individuals who put financial gains above patient safety,” he added.
Some of the domains that were part of the crackdown include http://www.bestgenericstore.com, http://www.nextdaypills.com and http://www.top-meds-discounts.com. The intercepted packages were from India, the United Kingdom, China and El Salvador, the FDA stated.
According to the FDA, besides the health risk the products from the targeted websites may pose, use of these websites also increases the likelihood of computer viruses, identity theft and credit card fraud.
The FDA webpage BeSafeRx: Know Your Online Pharmacy provides tips on identifying an illegal online pharmacy and information on how to buy medicine safely online.
The recent effort against the websites and packages was part of Operation Pangea XI, the 11th annual International Internet Week of Action. The worldwide initiative is geared towards stopping the unlawful sale and distribution of illegal and potentially counterfeit medical products sold on the internet, according to the release.
The recent actions are some of the latest such efforts the FDA has taken to stop possibly dangerous substances from being sold or used in the United States. Since June, the agency has sent warning letters to at least 13 online networks operating 74 websites ordering them to stop illegally marketing “potentially dangerous, unapproved and misbranded versions of opioid medications,” including tramadol and/or oxycodone.
Disclosure: Gottlieb is FDA commissioner.