FDA cracks down on websites selling illegal drugs

October 30, 2018
Christine Blank
Christine Blank

FDA recently stopped importation and sent warning letters to numerous online sellers of illegal opioids, oncology drugs and other medicines.

FDA recently stopped importation and sent warning letters to numerous online sellers of illegal opioids, oncology drugs and other medicines.

During Operation Pangea XI, FDA sent warning letters to 7 different networks operating 465 websites selling misbranded and unapproved drugs to US consumers. The sites sell “potentially dangerous, unapproved versions of opioid, oncology and antiviral prescription drugs,” FDA said in a statement.

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FDA also refused entry into the United States of 794 illegal drugs from web sites in the United Kingdom, India, and Canada. Plus, the agency brought 450 domain names, such as www.nextdaypills.com, to the attention of search engines and the appropriate domain name registries and registrars. 

“The sale of potentially dangerous and counterfeit drugs by criminal networks on the internet is a large and growing threat to the public health,” said FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, MD, in the statement from FDA.

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The illegal online pharmacies 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,” Gottlieb added. “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.”

Gottlieb said he is particularly concerned about the ease with which consumers can gain access to controlled substances and prescription opioids online. “This is one reason why we’ve stepped up our efforts, both from a policy and enforcement standpoint, to take these bad actors down.”

FDA 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.

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