FDA launches global operation with the aim of protecting consumers from potentially dangerous prescription drugs sold online

The FDA, in partnership with international regulatory and law enforcement agencies, recently acted against over 500 websites that illegally sell potentially dangerous, unapproved versions of prescription medicines. Medicines which included opioids, antibiotics and injectable epinephrine products to American consumers.

These actions were part of a major global operation that the FDA participated in to target illegal drugs being marketed online, and shipped and distributed through the postal system, directly to American consumers. Amongst other actions, the FDA also issued warning letters to the operators of most of the illegal websites that were targeted in the operation and worked with internet registrars to confiscate certain websites. Patients who buy prescription medicines from illegal online pharmacies may be putting their health at risk because the products, could potentially be counterfeit, contaminated, expired, or otherwise unsafe.

This effort was part of Operation Pangea X, as part of the 10th annual International Internet Week of Action (IIWA), a global cooperative effort led by Interpol, to combat the unlawful sale and distribution of illegal and potentially counterfeit or substandard medical products on the internet. The IIWA ran from Sept. 12 to Sept. 19, 2017. The goal of Operation Pangea X was to identify the makers and distributors of illegal prescription drug products and to remove these products from the supply chain. Commissioner Gottlieb joined efforts to kick off the operation with a visit he made to the International Mail Facility (IMF) in New York on Aug. 25, 2017.

During Operation Pangea X, the FDA sent 13 warning letters to the operators of 401 websites. The FDA also seized nearly 100 website domain names, such as buyhydrocodoneonline.com, canadian-pharmacy24x7.com and buyklonopin.com. FDA inspectors, in collaboration with other federal agencies, screened packages suspected of containing illegal drug products at IMFs in Chicago, Miami and New York during the IIWA. These screenings resulted in nearly 500 parcels being detained for appropriate FDA compliance follow up. Parcels found in violation of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act will be refused entry into the country.

“The FDA is proud to partner with our international counterparts on this important operation,” Commissioner Gottlieb said. “However, our work to fight illegal online pharmacies is not over. In addition to the multifaceted work plan we will soon unveil, we’ve recently tripled the staff we have in the IMFs to improve our ability to inspect packages that are suspected of containing illegal drugs, and we have doubled the number of cybercrime and port of entry special agents for the Office of Criminal Investigations. These efforts are part of a much broader work plan that the FDA is developing aimed at beefing up our efforts to interdict illegal drugs.”

In addition to health risks, illegal online pharmacies can pose other risks to consumers, including credit card fraud, identity theft and computer viruses. The FDA encourages consumers to report suspected criminal activity to the FDA’s Office of Criminal Investigation.

The FDA also provides consumers with information to identify an illegal online pharmacy and information on how to buy medicine safely online through BeSafeRx: Know Your Online Pharmacy.

Source: World Pharma News

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