- Interpol is leading an effort to clamp down on the sale of unapproved drugs through online channels. During an enforcement effort that ran from May 31 to June 7, the FDA and the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol inspected thousands of international mail facilities (IMFs), with the goal of identifying and tracking unapproved drug sales.
- As a result, the FDA will seek to suspend 4,412 sites that sell unapproved drugs.
- U.S. consumers have purchased unapproved medications from international sellers to treat depression, narcolepsy, glaucoma and other medical conditions.
The FDA conducts these types of investigations from time to time in order to crack down on sale of unapproved, and possible dangerous, drugs coming from illegally run websites.
Enforcement is being handled by the FDA's Office of Criminal Investigations, Office of Regulatory Affairs, and Center for Drug Evaluation and Research. Screening took place at various facilities in San Francisco, Chicago and New York in addition to other places. As part of this regulatory oversight, the FDA also sends out warning letters and detains parcels that contain unapproved drugs.
Last June, the FDA conducted the International Internet Week of Action, which culminated in warning letters to 409 web sites. This year's sting activities were even more ambitious.
Buying unapproved drugs from foreign web sites is a risky proposition. In addition to the health risks, buyers can face credit card fraud, identity theft and computer viruses.