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Illegal Internet Pharmacies Shut Down by FDA


The FDA (Food and Drug Administration) has shut down over 4,100 illegal internet pharmacies. The FDA has done this by removing websites, seizing illegal products and bringing criminal charges against these illegal internet pharmacies.

The FDA first sent warning letters to the operators of these more than 4,100 websites that had been identified. Then, as a follow up, the FDA sent notices to Internet Service Providers (ISPs), domain Name Registrars (DNRs) and Registries letting them know that these websites were selling products in violation of United States law. The FDA is now working in connection with its foreign counterparts in dealing with the websites that remain that continue to sell misbranded or unapproved prescription drugs to United States consumers.

In a news release put out by the FDA on October 4, 2012, the FDA said that it was participating in partnership with international regulatory and law enforcement agencies to fight the online distribution and sale of potentially illegal and counterfeit medical products.

Operation Pangea V

The FDA made this announcement during the 5th annual International Internet Week of Action (IIWA). This years fight against illegal internet pharmacies was called Operation Pangea V, and took place between September 25 and October 2, 2012.

Thru Operation Pangea V, $10.5 million worth of pharmaceuticals were seized worldwide. Over 18,000 illegal internet pharmacies had their websites shut down.

During Operation Pangea V, the FDA went after websites that were selling unapproved and potentially dangerous drugs. In many instances, these were drugs that could be hurtful to public health. This is due to the fact that these drugs contained active ingredients that had already been taken off of the United States market because of safety issues, or they only have FDA approval when they are used under the supervision of a licensed health care practitioner.

Identifying distributors and producers

The goal of the annual effort against illegal internet pharmacies this year was to identify distributors and producers of illegal pharmaceutical medical devices and products and to get rid of these products from the supply chain. The effort involved regulatory, customs and law enforcement authorities from 100 countries.

The FDA has also reinforced its internet attempt to educate Americans concerning the risks of purchasing prescription drugs from the internet by launching a national campaign. The campaign, which is known as “BeSafeRX - Know Your Online Pharmacy, has as its goal to increase public awareness in regard to the heath risks associated with using fraudulent internet pharmacies. The campaign also seeks to raise pubic awareness about what consumers can do to protect themselves.

A real threat

FDA Commissioner Margaret A. Hamburg, M.D. said, “Consumers in the United States and around the world face a real threat from internet pharmacies that illegally sell potentially substandard, counterfeit, adulterated or otherwise unsafe medicines. This week’s efforts show that strong international enforcement efforts are required to combat this global public health problem. The FDA is committed to joining forces to protect consumers from the risks these websites present.”

The operation identified several illegal medications. These included Viagra, Tamiflu, Domperidone and Isotretinoin.

If you suspect any criminal activity, the FDA asks you to report it to www.fda.gov/oci. If you are a victim, you should consult a personal injury attorney.
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