The U.S. Food and Drug Administration, in partnership with international regulatory and law enforcement agencies, took action this week against more than 4,100 Internet pharmacies that illegally sell potentially dangerous, unapproved drugs to consumers.
The actions taken include civil and criminal charges, seizure of illegal products, and removal of the Websites.
This year’s effort – Operation Pangea V – operated between Sept. 25 and Oct. 2 and resulted in the shutdown of more than 18,000 illegal pharmacy Websites and the seizure of about $10.5 million worth of pharmaceuticals worldwide. The results of the operation were part of the 5th annual International Internet Week of Action (IIWA), a global effort to combat the online sale and distribution of potentially counterfeit and illegal medical products.
The goal of this annual effort, which involved law enforcement, customs and regulatory authorities from 100 countries, is to identify producers and distributors of illegal pharmaceutical products and medical devices and remove these products from the supply chain.
“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,” said FDA Commissioner Margaret A. Hamburg, in a statement. “This week’s efforts show that strong international enforcement efforts are required to combat this global public health problem.”
Last week, FDA stepped up its online efforts with the launch of a national campaign - “BeSafeRx – Know Your Online Pharmacy” - to educate American consumers about the risks of buying prescription drugs over the Internet.
During Operation Pangea V, the FDA targeted Websites selling unapproved and potentially dangerous medicines. In many cases, the medicines can be detrimental to public health because they contain ingredients that are approved by FDA for use only under the supervision of a licensed health care provider or were previously withdrawn from U.S. market due to safety issues.
FDA encourages consumers to report suspected criminal activity here
(For more details about FDA’s global enforcement efforts, read the September American Shipper
, pages 8-12