The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) of the United States has made a crack down on more than a thousand illegal online pharmacies that had been selling risky, unapproved medications to consumers.
Working with the law enforcement and international regulatory agencies, the FDA filed criminal charges, seizure of illegal products and removal of websites of 4,100 internet pharmacies.
This significant move came in the middle of the 5th annual International Week of Action (IIWA), a united effort to deal with the online sale and distribution of phony and illegal drugs. The annual objective of Operation Pangea V was the closure of over 18,000 unauthorized pharmacy websites, as well as to confiscate around $10.5 million worth of pharmaceutical goods world over. It involved 100 countries which pinpointed producers and suppliers of illegal medical devices and pharmaceutical products.
Dr. Margaret A. Hamburg, FDA Commissioner, said that the United States and other consumers all over the world are subject to the real danger of Internet pharmacies that sell substandard, adulterated and unsafe medicines. The FDA is committed to join other agencies to prevent the presence of these dangerous websites. The group is now focused on creating awareness of health risks from illicit pharmacies and their products.
These medicines are dangerous as they contained ingredients that are used only under consultation with certified healthcare professionals; and these medicines are using ingredients already eliminated from the market due to safety issues.
Among illegal medicines cited are: Domperidone, Isotretinoin. Tamiflu and Viagra. Domperidone has been removed since 1988 as it can cause severe side effects, even death. Isotretinoin is used to cure intense modular acne but it has to be closely supervised by a physician. Tamiflu is not approved by FDA as it could cause life threatening allergic reaction. Viagra is used to treat erectile dysfunction but has to be taken with healthcare professional direction as it affects heart condition.
Before the close-down, FDA already sent letters to these 4,100 websites warning them of the coming plan. Then they were sent notices through registries, internet service and domain name registries of forthcoming plan. The FDA is presently involved tracking down those websites which have not complied with the order.
The director of FDA, office of Criminal Investigation John Roth concluded that the acts of internet pharmacies in selling illegal, counterfeit or potentially adulterated or substandard drugs are international crime problems and the FDA is working with the INTERPOL to fight this problem.
The Food Drug Administration worked hand in hand with Operation Pangea V by screening all drug products from international mail facilities. Results show that products such antidepressants, antibiotics and other medicines to cure diabetes, high cholesterol and high blood pressure were patronized by U.S. consumers. Some of them are potentially risks if taken without consulting a health care practitioner, or if the medicines had been previously taken off the marker for safety measures.
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