The Food and Drug Administration has taken action against more than 9,600 websites, claiming they illegally sold potentially dangerous prescription drugs that put unwitting consumers at risk.
The agency issued regulatory warnings, shut down some websites and seized more than $41 million worth of illegal medications, according to FDA officials.
As part of “Operation Pangea VI,” the FDA’s Office of Criminal Investigations, in coordination with the United States Attorney’s office for the District of Colorado, took the actions against what appeared to be an organized criminal network of websites using fake licenses and certifications to falsely claim the sale of “FDA approved” and “brand name” drugs from Canada, officials said. Some sites also falsely used the names of certain U.S.-based retailers to trick consumers into believing there was an affiliation. In all, 1,677 illegal pharmacy websites were shut down during the operation period from June 18 to June 25, 2013, making the operation the largest Internet-based action of its kind.
“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, in a statement,
Most of the seized drugs were produced overseas, bypassing safety controls required by the FDA and provided by physicians. According to the agency, most drugs seized in the operation were purported to be diabetes medications, arthritis drugs, antidepressants, hormone replacement therapies and sleep aids, as well as treatments for erectile dysfunction, high cholesterol and seizures.