FDA

Missing Your Latest Order From That Online Pharmacy? Blame the FDA (And Maybe Interpol)

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Boston Public Library/Flickr

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is crowing over its recent seizure of insulin, glaucoma medicine, and generic Viagra arriving from foreign pharmacies. There may be e. Coli in beef (again) and listeria in everything, but at least nobody in America is getting any hormones or erection drugs without proper approval.

Working in conjunction with U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the FDA "conducted extensive examinations" at international mail facilities based in Los Angeles, New York, and Chicago, ultimately detaining or seizing 583 packages. "Preliminary findings" reveal some of these to have contained hCG, insulin, estrogen, and generic versions of Viagra, Cialis, and the glaucoma med Lumigan.

The meds were ordered by Americans from international online pharmacies. The FDA says it "notified Internet service providers, domain name registrars and related organizations that 1,975 websites were selling products in violation of U.S. law."

Why do I believe it's not going to stop there?

"When consumers buy prescription drugs from outside the legitimate supply chain, they cannot know if the medicines they receive are counterfeit or even if they contain the right active ingredient in the proper dosages," said Douglas Stearn, director of the FDA's Office of Enforcement and Import Operations.

Presumably customers ordering from BestOnlinePharmacy.com know that they're not necessarily getting a doctor-approved and highly regulated product. There are all sorts of reasons—lack of access to medical care, cheaper prices online, wanting drugs that aren't available in the U.S. without a prescription or at all—why people might deem this an acceptable tradeoff. 

The FDA and Customs' efforts were apparently part of an international initiative known as "Operation Pangea," under which representatives from 111 countries came together to "remove from the supply" prescription drugs sold internationally through Internet pharmacies.

Sponsored by Interpol, the globally coordinated searches and seizures were in support of the "International Internet Week of Action" and resulted in the detention or seizure of 19,618 packages containing "unapproved or suspected counterfeit drugs" from countries such as Australia, China, India, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Singapore, Taiwan, and the U.K.

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  1. Now I know where my estrogen shipment went.

  2. Every Tax Rancher knows that one of the best ways to shake down your Tax Cattle is to make yourself the sole source of what they need to sustain their lives and health.

    Obviously, they’re not going to put with the Tax Cattle evading this shakedown by buying elsewhere.

    Between government, medicine, and law, Tax Rancher shakedowns are maybe 70% of the economy.

  3. Every Tax Rancher knows that one of the best ways to shake down your Tax Cattle is to make yourself the sole source of what they need to sustain their lives and health.

    Obviously, they’re not going to put with the Tax Cattle evading this shakedown by buying elsewhere.

    Between government, medicine, and law, Tax Rancher shakedowns are maybe 70% of the economy.

  4. Brand-name Viagra in the US: about $28/pill. Generic equivalent from overseas: about $2.50/pill.

  5. I love the naked protection racket factor in this. i think this is really one of the main arguments against the insurance for all crowd. How can you get all bleeding heart about the price of medications and not have this as part of the conversation? The Feds are running interference for pharmaceutical companies, making sure you have to wait an hour or more for whatever meds the gate keepers allow you at $400 a prescription without insurance.

    1. ^This. This is even the reason I wouldn’t want the US in charge of national healthcare period. Not just the incompetency, but the monopolization. Remember, the FDA wanted to make vitamins prescription only for a long time.

  6. Every Tax Rancher knows that one of the best ways to shake down your Tax Cattle is to make yourself the sole source of what they need to sustain their lives and health.

    Obviously, they’re not going to put with the Tax Cattle evading this shakedown by buying elsewhere.

    Between government, medicine, and law, Tax Rancher shakedowns are maybe 70% of the economy.

  7. And what happened to the poor guy who never got the insulin he ordered?

    Uh oh.

    Has anyone heard from Sugarfree today?

  8. The situation is even more obnoxious than this report suggests.

    Remember: It is 100% PERFECTLY LEGAL to purchase non-narcotic medications online from foreign vendors without a prescription.

    What the FDA and CPB are doing now is intercepting and seizing the shipments, not because they are contraband, but because the shipments did not have the proper labeling and dosage inserts.

    Indeed, a purchaser of such a seized shipment receives a quite polite letter from CPB stressing that they broke no law in placing the order — but good luck getting you drugs or your money back.

  9. In binomial nomenclature the genus name (in this case Escherichia (or simply “E.”)) is capitalized and the species name (in this case “coli”) is all lower case. But “Good effort!” as the Brits say.

  10. A good point: What happened to the people who didn’t get their medications. How are they doing? I warned about regulatory overreach in this NY Times Op-Ed: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/03…..rugs.html.

    Gabriel Levitt
    Vice President
    PharmacyChecker.com

  11. The FDA is so full of bullshit. They’ll forbid this, but they still allow MSG, Triclosan, a surprisingly high level of arsenic in food and dozens of other pills that have massively bad, frequently fatal (but supposedly rare) side effects. Yeah, pull the other one, FDA.?

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