Partnering with international regulatory and law enforcement agencies, the FDA last month put the screws to more than 1,000 websites that illegally sell potentially dangerous drugs and medical devices directly to consumers.
Operation Pangea VIII, as described in a news release, was a global cooperative effort led by INTERPOL in which 115 countries participated. For its part, the FDA sent warning letters to the operators of nearly 400 websites offering unapproved or misbranded prescription medicines to U.S. patients and to nine firms distributing unapproved or uncleared medical devices online.
Some of the unapproved prescription drugs the operation targeted purported to be FDA-approved generic versions of brand name drugs. Sold illegally by the websites, they include: “Generic Nolvadex,” “Generic Meridia,” “Generic Valium,” “Generic Truvada” and “Generic Advair Diskus.”
Some of the devices sold illegally online include: “The Ondamed System” and “Colon Care Products of PA Open System Colon Hydrotherapy Device (Grace),” as well as illegal dermal fillers such as “Interfall Hydrogel polyacrylamide dermal filler,” “Dermafil hyaluronic acid dermal filler” and “Teosyal hyaluronic acid dermal filler.”
Preliminary findings from screening foreign products show that some, such as antidepressants, hormone replacement therapies, sleep aids and those to treat erectile dysfunction, high cholesterol and seizures, were intended for sale in the U.S.
In addition to health risks, illegal online pharmacies and illegal online medical device retailers can harm consumers by credit card fraud, identity theft and computer viruses. If you think you’ve been a victim of these dangerous thieves, report the suspected criminal activity to the FDA here.
Learn more about how to identify an illegal pharmacy website and how to find a safe one on the FDA’s page, BeSafeRx: Know Your Online Pharmacy.