Last Thursday, June 18, 2015, Food and Drug Administration, with the help of international partners, seized counterfeit medicines from more than 1,050 websites which sells dangerous and unlisted medicines and medical devices.
The operation was worldwide and warnings were sent to the offending websites in less than 24 hours after identifying the operators. Three of which came from Jakarta, Indonesia and more than ten traced back to China.
In the United Kingdom, 6.2 million doses were also hauled by UK’s Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA). These unlicensed and dangerous counterfeit medicines are estimated to worth £16 million.
Among the counterfeited products taken into investigation were:
· two million doses of erectile dysfunction drugs
· slimming drugs - some of which can increase the risk of heart attacks and strokes
· narcolepsy pills
· abortion pills
· diabetes medication
· hair-loss drugs
· cancer medicines, particularly for breast and prostate
· medical devices, including fake condoms and dental laboratories
All of these products includes wrong or no active ingredient.
The spread of these medicines is already a global epidemic. Many organizations and private institutions are already in confusion as to what to do with the increasing problem. Efforts are being done by the World Health Organization (WHO) and other non-profit groups to eliminate these fraudulent acts in the online world which affects even the physical distribution of legitimate drugs itself.
Billions of dollars are being generated by these illegal businesses annually. It does not only affect health but also global economy in general.
According to reports, China is one of the major producers. In 2001, Chinese authorities shut down 1, 300 factories while investigating 4, 000 more. It is estimated that 200, 000 to 400, 000 people die in PRC yearly due to the intake of counterfeit drugs. Despite the staggering figures, the number is more likely to be higher than what we already know.
Collaboration with foreign entities and global organizations is one of the first step such illegal acts and to keep it from covering more and more prospects. Continuous warnings are also given to local authorities to disseminate to individuals and different media tools are also being taken advantage of such as social networking sites Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.
FDA has released their statement with regards to the action made in seizing those thousands of illegal sites, “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”.