The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), along with regulatory and law enforcement agencies from around the world, recently took action against over 500 websites that illegally sell potentially dangerous, unapproved versions of prescription medications to consumers.
The action, part of a major global initiative known as Operation Pangeo X, was intended to stop illegal and potentially counterfeit drugs from being marketed online and then shipped and distributed to American consumers through the U.S. postal system. The medications being sold illegally on these sites include opioids, antibiotics, and injectable epinephrine products.
During the campaign, the FDA send 13 warning letters to the operators of 401 websites, and seized nearly 100 website domain names, including buyhydrocodoneonline.com, canadian-pharmacy24x7.com, and buyklonopin.com. FDA inspectors, along with those of other federal agencies, also screened packages suspected of containing illegal drug products in Chicago, Miami, and New York, resulting in nearly 500 packages being detained for FDA compliance checks. Parcels in violation of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act were refused entry into the country.
Illegal Online Pharmacies Present Many Dangers to U.S. Consumers
Consumers who buy prescription medications online from illegal online pharmacies may be doing so for convenience or to save money, but they are also putting their health at risk since the products being passed off as authentic may in reality be counterfeit, contaminated, expired, or unsafe, according to the FDA. In addition to the medical and health risks, illegal online pharmacies pose many other risks to consumers, including credit card fraud, identity theft, and computer viruses.
It is estimated that of the 35,000 active online drug sellers, only a small fraction are legitimate. The FDA provides consumers with information to identify an illegal online pharmacy and also information on how to purchase medications safely online through the website BeSafeRx: Know Your Online Pharmacy.