FDA Dismantles Illegal Online Pharmacies Ring
1,677 websites selling unapproved and possible harming prescription drugs were shut down this week in a coordinated action of the US Food and Drug Administration, international regulatory authorities, customs and police from 99 countries.
In an international operation called Pangea VI, regulators screened approximately 9,600 illegal online pharmacies and seized some $41 million worth of prescription medicine distributed over the Internet though offending websites.
“Many of these websites appeared to be operating as a part of an organized criminal network that falsely purported its websites to be ‘Canadian Pharmacies.’ These websites displayed fake licenses and certifications to convince U.S. consumers to purchase drugs they advertised as ‘brand name’ and ‘FDA approved,’” the FDA statement reads.
The pharmaceutical websites may harm people’s health with potentially dangerous prescription drugs that were never FDA-approved, bypassing altogether the “existing safety controls and the protections provided when used under a doctor’s care.”
Offers of the illegal websites included medicine to treat diabetes, erectile dysfunction, severe schizophrenia, osteoarthritis or acute pain in adults. The investigation also revealed that certain drugs were brought to the US from abroad. This was the case with antidepressants, hormone replacement therapies, sleep aids, and drugs to treat erectile dysfunction, high cholesterol, and seizures.
Apart from the health risks, these websites may also be involved in fraud, identity theft or malware distribution. People can report any suspicious case of medicine fraud at www.fda.gov/oci.