Prescription Drugs

$41 Million in Pharmaceuticals Seized in Online Drug Sales Sting

More than 1,500 sites shut down

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Thousands of pharmacy websites that U.S. regulators said were selling illegal and potentially dangerous medications had $41 million of their products seized as part of an international sting.

The operation targeted more than 9,600 websites and shut down at least 1,677 and issued warnings to others, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration said in a statement today. Many websites appeared to be part of an organized criminal network that claimed they were Canadian pharmacies, the FDA said. The agency didn't name the companies or individuals involved in the sting.

Drugmakers including Pfizer Inc. (PFE), the world's largest, have begun experimenting with selling medicines such as the erectile dysfunction pill Viagra online through their own websites to combat counterfeiting. The fake online pharmacies the FDA shut down were said by regulators to be selling products illegally under such names as Viagra Super Force and Generic Celebrex.

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