The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a stern warning today, alerting consumers to the Ã¢â‚¬Å“dangers associated with buying prescription drugs over the Internet.Ã¢â‚¬Â The impetus for this latest warning is the discovery that two dozen related websites may be involved in the distribution of counterfeit prescription drugs.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“On three occasions during recent months,Ã¢â‚¬Â says the alert, Ã¢â‚¬Å“FDA received information that counterfeit versions of Xenical 120 mg capsules, a drug manufactured by Hoffmann-La Roche Inc. (Roche), were obtained by three consumers from two different Web sites. Xenical is an FDA-approved drug used to help obese individuals who meet certain weight and height requirements lose weight and maintain weight loss.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“None of the capsules ordered off the Web sites contained orlistat, the active ingredient in authentic Xenical.Ã¢â‚¬Â
One of the consumers in question purchased pills that were made with sibutramine rather than orlistat. Sibutramine is the active ingredient in AbbottÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Meridia drug, another weight-loss medication, but that medication brings with it different risks, drug interaction warnings, and dosage procedures than Xenical. The other two consumers purchased drugs that were made of nothing more than talc and starch. Apparently, the counterfeit purchases were made from two separate but related sites: brandpills.com and pillspharm.com.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Further investigation by FDA disclosed that these Web sites are two of 24 Web sites that appear on the pharmacycall365.com home page under the Ã¢â‚¬ËœOur WebsitesÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ heading,Ã¢â‚¬Â the agency notes. Ã¢â‚¬Å“Four of these Web sites previously have been identified by FDAÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Office of Criminal Investigations as being associated with the distribution of counterfeit Tamiflu and counterfeit Cialis.Ã¢â‚¬Â None of the websites appear to be based in the United States.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Consumers should be wary if there is no way to contact the Web site pharmacy by phone, if prices are dramatically lower than the competition, or if no prescription from your doctor is required,Ã¢â‚¬Â the FDA explains. Ã¢â‚¬Å“As a result, FDA strongly cautions consumers about purchasing drugs from any of these Web sites which may be involved in the distribution of counterfeit drugs and reiterates previous public warnings about buying prescription drugs online.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Following is the complete list of suspect Internet drug sellers: