FDA launches global operation to crack down on websites selling illegal, potentially dangerous drugs

FDA, working with international regulatory and law enforcement agencies, announced Tuesday it recently took steps to target nearly 500 websites that illegally sell potentially dangerous, unapproved prescription drugs to consumers. The initiative was part of Operation Pangea XI, the 11th annual International Internet Week of Action (IIWA).

FDA, working with international regulatory and law enforcement agencies, announced Tuesday it recently took steps to target nearly 500 websites that illegally sell potentially dangerous, unapproved prescription drugs to consumers. The initiative was part of Operation Pangea XI, the 11th annual International Internet Week of Action (IIWA). "The sale of potentially dangerous and counterfeit drugs by criminal networks on the internet is a large and growing threat to the public health," said FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, MD. "The illegal online pharmacies that we're taking action against are often run by sophisticated criminal networks that knowingly and unlawfully distribute illicit drugs, including potentially counterfeit medicines and controlled substances both on the surface and dark web." FDA's multi-faceted enforcement effort under Operation Pangea XI sought to identify the manufacturers and distributors of illegal prescription drugs and remove them and their sources from the supply chain. FDA has sent warning letters to seven different networks that were operating a total of 465 websites selling misbranded and unapproved medicines to consumers. More than 450 website domain names were also brought to the attention of search engines and the appropriate domain name registries and registrars. The IIWA ran from October 9 to October 16, 2018. The operation is a collaborative effort between FDA, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, the National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center, Interpol, the World Customs Organization, the Permanent Forum of International Pharmaceutical Crime, the European Heads of Medicines Agencies Working Group of Enforcement Officers, DEA, the pharmaceutical industry and national health and law enforcement agencies from more than 100 participating countries.