The FDA, in coordination with international regulatory and law enforcement agencies, took action against over 9,600 websites for online sale and distribution of potentially dangerous, unapproved prescription medications to consumers. Regulatory warnings were issued and $41,104,386 worth of illegal medications was seized.
The FDA’s Office of Criminal Investigations and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Colorado, seized and shut down 1,677 illegal pharmacy websites as part of an international effort called Operation Pangea VI. The goal of Pangea VI was to identify the makers and distributors of illegal drugs and medical devices and remove these products from the supply chain.
The Office of Criminal Investigations Cybercrime Investigations Unit banner is now displayed on seized websites to help consumers identify them as illegal. Numerous websites appeared to be under an organized criminal network and falsely alleged to be “Canadian Pharmacies.” Fake licenses and certifications were displayed to convince consumers to purchase drugs advertised as “Brand name” and “FDA approved.”
Some of the medicines that were sold illegally included:
- Generic Celebrex (celecoxib)
- Levitra “Super Force” (vardenafil) and Viagra “Super Force” (sildenafil)
- Clozapine (marketed as brand Clozaril)
Other drug products from abroad included antidepressants, hormone replacement therapies, sleep aids, other drugs to treat erectile dysfunction, high cholesterol, and seizures.
Consumers can access BeSafeRx: Know Your Online Pharmacy to learn more on identifying an illegal pharmacy website and finding a safe online pharmacy.
For more information visit www.fda.gov/ICECI/CriminalInvestigations/default.htm.