The US Food and Drug Administration set its sights on the internet last week and shut down over 1,600 online pharmacies for selling illegal prescription drugs. In total, over 9,600 websites were warned or had their assets seized by the FDA and partnering organizations across 99 different countries. The groups collectively seized over $41 million worth of illegal medicines.
The largest crackdown yet
The weeklong effort, which ended Tuesday and was detailed on Thursday, was part of the International Internet Week of Action (IIWA), an annual initiative focused on curbing online sales of illegal medicines. The six-year-old event is sponsored in part by Interpol and the World Health Organization, among others. This past week's IIWA was the largest yet — its goal was to identify the illegal drugs' manufacturers, and to stop their production, though the FDA hasn't detailed if that end goal was met.
According to the FDA, many of the websites it seized were part of a crime ring that advertised under the name "Canadian Pharmacies" and claimed to offer brand name and FDA approved medicines. On the contrary, their drugs were distinctly American, generic, and unapproved. Other seized websites were found to be imitating major brands, such as CVS and Walgreens, using URLs like www.c-v-s-pharmacy.com. But while the effort was one of law enforcement, the FDA says that its broader aim is simply to protect consumers from dangerous drugs.