Faced with mounting medical bills, American consumers have flocked to the internet in search of “Canadian Pharmacies” selling bargain-priced prescription drugs. What they may not know is that the drugs may actually come from overseas and many of the websites are illegal, selling dangerous unapproved medications.
The FDA released a statement yesterday stating that it has shut down 1,677 websites and seized $41 million of illegal drugs in a massive international sting operation. Dubbed “Operation Pangea VI,” the global task force encompassed agencies from 99 different countries, the largest internet-based action of its kind. The effort targeted nearly 10,000 websites and sought to “identify the makers and distributors of illegal drug products and medical devices and remove these products from the supply chain.”
Many of the websites displayed fake credentials, including counterfeit licenses and certifications. Consumers were duped into purchasing drugs that were neither brand name nor FDA approved. “Illegal online pharmacies put American consumers’ health at risk by selling potentially dangerous products, said John Roth, director of the FDA’s Office of Criminal Investigations.
CNN reports, “Several sites had sleek interfaces and names that could easily be confused with legitimate pharmacy retailers. For example, the FDA shuttered Walgreens-Store.com; the well-known drugstore chain’s website is actually Walgreens.com.”
Learn to Protect Yourself
The FDA warns consumers to be leery of online pharmacies that do not require a prescription, send spam or other unsolicited emails, or offer prices that seem too good to be true. In order to alert the public, the FDA’s “Office of Criminal Investigations Cybercrime Investigations Unit” banner has been placed on seized websites.
For more information, visit www.fda.gov/BeSafeRx — part of a national campaign to raise awareness of the dangers of buying prescription medicines from fake online pharmacies.
Source: “FDA shuts down 1,677 online pharmacies” By Caleb Hellerman, CNN, June 27, 2013.