International Campaign Targets Illegal Pharmaceutical Websites; FDA Issues 22 Warning Letters

November 25, 2009
Angie Drakulich

Angie Drakulich was editorial director of Pharmaceutical Technology.

ePT--the Electronic Newsletter of Pharmaceutical Technology

The US Food and Drug Administration has issued 22 Warning Letters to website operators as part of its International Internet Week of Action.

The US Food and Drug Administration has issued 22 Warning Letters to website operators as part of its International Internet Week of Action. The week-long international effort is aimed at curbing illegal actions involving medical products, according to a Nov. 19 agency press release. Twenty-four countries participated in the special operation, which focused on four key areas, says the release:

  • Increasing public awareness about the dangers and risks associated with purchasing drugs and medical devices online

  • Identifying producers and distributors of counterfeit and illegal pharmaceutical products and medical devices

  • Targeting these individuals and businesses with civil or criminal action

  • Seizing counterfeit and illegal products and removing them from the supply chain.

“Many U.S. consumers are being misled in the hopes of saving money by purchasing prescription drugs over the Internet from illegal pharmacies,” said FDA Commissioner Margaret A. Hamburg in the release. “Unfortunately, these drugs are often counterfeit, contaminated, or unapproved products, or contain an inconsistent amount of the active ingredient. Taking these drugs can pose a danger to consumers.” 

FDA’s Office of Criminal Investigations, Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, Office of Regulatory Affairs, and Office of Enforcement were involved in the effort, which targeted 136 websites “that appeared to be engaged in the illegal sale of unapproved or misbranded drugs to US consumers,” according to the release. The effort was sponsored by the International Criminal Police Organization, the World Health Organization's International Medical Products Anticounterfeiting Task Force, the Permanent Forum on International Pharmaceutical Crime, and the national health and law enforcement agencies of the 24 participating countries. None of the websites were for pharmacies located in the US or Canada.

See related PharmTech articles:
Report: Online Drug Brand Abuse on the Rise  [blog post]
 
FDA’s Recent Actions Against Illegal Prescription Drug Flow [blog post]