NPR : News

Filed Under:

Feds Bust Drug Websites Masquerading As Big-Name Chains

If you're looking for a deal on prescription drugs or tired of standing in line at the drugstore counter, maybe you'd be inclined to try an online pharmacy.

Perhaps you'd feel better about that choice if the site carried the name of a well-known chain, say, www.walgreen-store.com or www.c-v-s-pharmacy.com.

Well, not so fast. The Food and Drug Administration and the U.S. attorney's office in Colorado cracked down on those misleading sites, which weren't connected to their namesakes, and more than 1,600 others that the feds say are breaking the law by selling prescription drugs, some of them counterfeits.

"Illegal online pharmacies put American consumers' health at risk by selling potentially dangerous products," John Roth, director of the FDA's Office of Criminal Investigations, said in a statement. "This is an ongoing battle in the United States and abroad ...."

Many of the websites that were shut down claimed to be Canadian companies. But the FDA says that was a lie. The websites made use of bogus licenses and certifications to trick U.S. consumers, the FDA said.

The far-reaching bust is part of an international effort with a catchy, prehistoric name: Pangea VI. Pretty sure online drug sales weren't a problem back in the supercontinent's heyday.

This modern sweep was part of an International Internet Week of Action that wrapped up June 25.

The Interpol-coordinated Pangea project, now in its sixth wave, goes after sites hawking unapproved or risky drugs. Many of the them also sell drugs that legally require a prescription without actually getting one.

The FDA told one operator of many websites, including canadianfamilypharmacy.biz and cheapcanadianpharmacy.net, to stop selling drugs that violate U.S. laws. The agency's warning letter said a couple of impotence drugs being sold as "Levitra Super Force" and "Viagra Super Force" hadn't been approved by the agency. FDA also faulted the sites for selling "generic Celebrex." Problem is that Celebrex, a painkiller, is only available as a brand-name drug in this country, so a generic version is verboten.

Separately, Maine just enacted a law making it OK for residents to buy prescription drugs from other countries.

The FDA doesn't approve. "Medicine bought from foreign sources, such as from Internet sellers, from businesses that offer to buy foreign medicine for you, or during trips outside the United States, may not be safe or effective," an FDA spokesman told Shots via email in response to questions about the Maine law..

Copyright 2013 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

NPR

Shante, He Stays: RuPaul Reflects On Decades Of Drag — And 2 Emmy Nominations

RuPaul is the most recognizable drag queen in America. His hit show, RuPaul's Drag Race is up for two Emmy Awards as it begins filming its ninth season. But drag, he says, will never be mainstream.
NPR

Food World Rallies For Quake-Hit Amatrice, Home Of Famous Pasta Dish

In Italy and the U.S., restaurants are pledging to use sales of Amatrice's signature dish, spaghetti all' amatriciana, to raise funds for the Italian town devastated by Wednesday's earthquake.
NPR

Former White House Doctor Outlines Gray Areas In Candidates' Health

NPR's Robert Siegel talks to Rob Darling, a former White House physician, about how much voters have a right to know about the medical histories of presidential candidates.
NPR

Tesla Clears Antitrust Hurdle In $2.6 Billion Deal For SolarCity

The Federal Trade Commission signed off on Tesla's plan to buy the solar panel installer. CEO Elon Musk is SolarCity's chairman and its largest shareholder.

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.