For the first time, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) have issued joint warning letters to several website operators that have been illegally selling opioid medications online.

The networks that received warning letters included Divyata, Euphoria Healthcare Pvt Ltd, JCM Dropship, and Meds4U, which in total operate 10 websites where various unapproved and misbranded opioid medications, including tramadol, are sold often without the need for a prescription. In a statement, the FDA and DEA warned the public that purchasing medications from illegal online pharmacies can be dangerous as many of the products may be “counterfeit, contaminated, expired or otherwise unsafe.” The Agencies also noted that credit card fraud, identity theft and computer viruses were also risks unlawful online pharmacies posed to consumers. 

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In addition to being in violation of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, these networks also violated the Controlled Substances Act by failing to register their online pharmacies with the DEA to allow for online dispensing and distribution of controlled substances.  The Companies have been given 15 days to respond to each agency with details on the actions they will take to address their violations. Failure to correct the violations may lead to legal enforcement action.

“As the FDA works to forcefully tackle the opioid crisis on all fronts, we cannot allow rogue online pharmacies to continue to fuel the crisis by illegally offering opioids for sale and circumventing the important safeguards that have been put in place for opioids to help protect the public health,” said Acting FDA Commissioner Ned Sharpless, MD “Today’s effort is also noteworthy because while the FDA partners regularly with the DEA, this is the first time we have issued joint warning letters with them.

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For more information visit FDA.gov

This article originally appeared on Neurology Advisor