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FDA Cracks Down on Online Sale of Illegal Medical Products

International effort takes aim at more than 1,050 websites

FRIDAY, June 19, 2015 (HealthDay News) — The U.S. Food and Drug Administration, along with international partners, moved this week against more than 1,050 websites that sell potentially dangerous counterfeit medicines and medical devices, the agency said Thursday.

Illegal medicines and medical devices were seized worldwide, and warnings were sent to the operators of offending websites, the FDA said in a news release. “Our efforts to protect the health of American patients by preventing the online sale of potentially dangerous illegal medical products will not cease,” George Karavetsos, director of the FDA’s Office of Criminal Investigations, said in the news release.

Counterfeit prescription drugs that claim to be generic versions of brand-name drugs that are sold illegally on the websites include generic Nolvadex, generic Meridia, generic Valium, generic Truvada, and generic Advair Diskus, according to the FDA. Mail screenings in Chicago, Miami, and New York found that some of these counterfeit drugs — which included antidepressants, hormone replacement therapies, sleep aids, and drugs to treat erectile dysfunction, high cholesterol, and seizures — were on their way to American consumers, the FDA said. Bogus medical devices sold on websites that were targeted include hyaluronic acid and other dermal fillers and “colon hydrotherapy” products.

As part of the international effort led by Interpol, the FDA said it sent warning letters to the operators of nearly 400 websites selling unapproved or misbranded prescription medicines to U.S. consumers, and to nine companies distributing unapproved medical devices online.

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