Cheap Online Drugs Could Be Counterfeits
Prescription drugs are pricey. Many Americans looking for a way to save on medications have turned to buying their prescriptions through out-of-country online pharmacies. One survey showed that as many as 25 percent of purchasers in the U.S. buy their drugs online in order to save money.
The drugs may be cheaper, but according to the FDA, there is no guarantee that they are reliable. The problem of counterfeit drugs is staggering and it isn’t limited to the U.S. Sale of fake prescription medications over the Internet generated upwards of $75 billion in global sales in 2010.
Counterfeit drugs are potentially dangerous for several reasons. The drugs may include other harmful ingredients besides those they advertise, they may not contain correct dosage amounts, or they may be completely fake.
According to one report the most frequently counterfeited medications were contraceptives, erectile dysfunction drugs and specialized antibiotics and flu therapies.
To combat the problem the FDA joined forces with Interpol, the World Customs Organization and a host of pharmaceutical groups in a week-long push to prevent counterfeit drug sales via the Internet. The effort, titled Operation Pangea V, targeted suppliers and vendors of unapproved drugs. The cooperative worldwide emphasis on halting fake drug sales was successful on several fronts.
Companies who were identified as suppliers to literally thousands of illicit online pharmacies were warned by letter that they were under FDA scrutiny and would be facing prosecution. The FDA sent a similar advisory letter to the involved online pharmacies. Companies were allowed a brief period during which to respond to allegations of wrongdoing.
Operation Pangea V managed in one week’s time to close 18,000 illegal pharmacies in 100 countries, make 79 arrests and seize 3.7 million doses of counterfeit medication.