The Food and Drug Administration has joined in a crackdown on over 500 online pharmacies that illegally sell potentially dangerous, unapproved versions of prescription drugs, including opioid pain medication, antibiotics and injectable epinephrine products. So far the crackdown doesn’t appear to be effective, as many of the pharmacies remain online.
The FDA recently partnered with Interpol and other international law enforcement agencies in a global operation called Pangea X. The goal was to identify the makers and distributors of illegal prescription drugs and to shut them down.
“These rogue online pharmacies are often run by sophisticated criminal networks that knowingly and unlawfully distribute illicit drugs, including counterfeit medicines and controlled substances. Consumers go to these websites believing that they are buying safe and effective medications, but they are being deceived and put at risk,” FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, MD, said in a statement.
“The ease with which consumers can purchase opioid products online is especially concerning to me, given the immense public health crisis of addiction facing our country. Some of the websites sold unapproved versions of multiple prescription opioids directly to U.S. consumers. This easy and illegal availability of these controlled substances fuels the misuse and abuse of opioids.”
The FDA sent 13 warning letters to the operators of 401 websites informing them they were illegally selling unapproved prescription drugs.