The drugs were unapproved, misbranded, or counterfeit. Many claimed to be approved generic versions of branded drugs and were advertised as “Generic Nolvadex”, “Generic Meridia”, “Generic Valium”, “Generic Truvada”, and “Generic Advair Diskus”.
Illegal medical devices included dermal fillers, colonic hydrotherapies, and electromagnetic frequency machines.
US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) inspectors also screened and seized illegal pharmaceuticals sent through the mail from overseas to Chicago, Miami and New York. In total, 814 parcels were confiscated.
Early analysis showed the mail contained foreign erectile dysfunction drugs, antidepressants, hormone replacement therapies, sleep aids, and cholesterol and seizure medicines addressed to US consumers.
The international operation, named Pangea VIII, saw the FDA send Warning Letters to around 400 websites offering fake medicines to US patients and to nine companies distributing unapproved medical devices online.
The operation aimed to cut counterfeits and illegal prescription drugs and devices out of the supply chain, said the FDA.
The action was part of an International Internet Week of Action (IIWA), a collaboration with the pharma industry, INTERPOL, the US Department of Homeland Security, National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center, the World Customs Organization, the Permanent Forum of International Pharmaceutical Crime, Heads of Medicines Agencies Working Group of Enforcement Officers, and law enforcement from 111 countries.
“Our efforts to protect the health of American patients by preventing the online sale of potentially dangerous illegal medical products will not cease,” said George Karavetsos, director of the FDA’s Office of Criminal Investigations.
“Operation Pangea VIII provides yet another avenue for the FDA to engage with our international law enforcement partners on these critical issues. We are not only pleased to be a part of this strong international enforcement effort, but resolved to do everything we can to ensure that the global problem of illegal Internet drug and device sales is deterred as a result.”