Illegal online pharmacies around the world were just hit with a global crackdown, courtesy of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and 99 other national governments.
In the Fifth Annual International Internet Week of Action (IIWA), a period where governments worldwide collaborate to stop the illegal sale of prescription drugs and medical supplies, 18,000 websites selling illegal or counterfeit drugs were terminated.
The weeklong effort was titled Operation Pangea V and lasted from Sept. 25 to Oct. 2 with the help of 100 countries.
During this period a total of roughly $10.5 million in illegal pharmaceuticals were confiscated globally.
“Consumers in the United States and around the world face a real threat from Internet pharmacies that illegally sell potentially substandard, counterfeit, adulterated or otherwise unsafe medicines,” said FDA Commissioner Margaret A. Hamburg, in a statement. “This week’s efforts show that strong international enforcement efforts are required to combat this global public health problem. The FDA is committed to joining forces to protect consumers from the risks these websites present.”
Illegal drugs seized during the operation included pharmaceuticals that have been pulled from American markets for their dangerous side effects, such as domperidone, and popular acne fighting drugs like isotretinoin, more commonly known as accutane.
FDA authorities say that in the absence of a prescription, medical consultation or monitoring, these drugs can prove unworthy of the risk they present to users.
To be safe when using online pharmacies, consumers are encouraged to steer clear of web pharmacies that don’t request an official prescription from a doctor.
Patients are also warned not to purchase pharmaceuticals from businesses offering “deep discounts or cheap prices that seem too good to be true.”
Pharmacies that have no license to operate in the U.S., and businesses with no American locations are also to be considered fake or illegal.