With more Internet pharmacies showing up than the FDA can possibly police, the agency is trying a new tactic to thwart sales of fake or outdated drugs. It has launched a campaign to get the public to realize that if they buy drugs online, they may very well end up with something that might harm them, or in the least, not help.
The agency today launched BeSafeRx, to warn against the dangers. It may seem like a duh thing to have to do but the FDA said in a survey this year that it found that 25% of Internet shoppers have already bought drugs online and 30% said they didn't know how to buy drugs safely online.
While counterfeits online used to be limited to erectile dysfunction drugs, the problem has gotten more serious of late. In May, the FDA sent out a warning about counterfeits of Teva Pharmaceutical Industries' ($TEVA) Adderall, the ADHD drug. The short-acting form of Adderall has been in short supply since last year and so counterfeiters found a market of buyers desperate to get their hands on the drug. The FDA said instead of the real active ingredient, at least some of the fakes contained painkillers, including the potentially habit-forming tramadol. Counterfeits of Roche's ($RHHBY) Avastin also have been found in the U.S., sold through companies tied to an Internet pharmacy owner.
"Buying medicines from rogue online pharmacies can be risky because they may sell fake, expired, contaminated, not approved by FDA, or otherwise unsafe products that are dangerous to patients," FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg, said in the announcement.
Law enforcement officials have made some arrests of Internet drug sellers but given that most are overseas, and if closed, spring up someplace else, the task of trying to stop them by making cases seems like an impossible task.
- read the release
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