The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) last month seized and shut down 1,677 illegal pharmacy websites selling $41,104,386 worth of fake medicines.
The sting was part of the FDA’s Operation Pangea VI, which aims to identify makers and distributors of counterfeit drugs and medical devices, and remove them from the supply chain. The FDA has described Pangea VI as “the largest Internet-based action of its kind”.
During International Internet Week of Action, which ran from June 18 to 25, the FDA, in partnership with international law enforcement agencies and regulatory bodies including Interpol and the World Customs Organisation, took action against more than 9,000 fake online pharmacies selling counterfeit drugs. A majority of these were issued regulatory warnings, while more than 1,600 were shut down.
Many of the offending websites were masquerading as Canadian pharmacies, and advertised the phony drugs as “brand name” and “FDA approved”, though the FDA found that none of the advertised medicines came from Canada.
Others used legitimate retailer names including Walgreens, CVS Pharmacy and Walmart to catch consumers out.
The seized websites now bear the FDA’s office of criminal investigations banner.
John Roth, director of the office of criminal investigations, said: “Illegal online pharmacies put American consumers’ health at risk by selling potentially dangerous products. This is an ongoing battle in the US and abroad, and the FDA will continue its criminal law enforcement and regulatory efforts.
“The agency is pleased to participate in Operation Pangea to protect consumers and strengthen relationships with international partners who join in this fight.”
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This article was first published on 09 July 2013 in World IP Review
FDA, counterfeit drugs, online pharmacies, Pangea VI