FDA Cracks Down on Illegal Online Sales of Opioids

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Opioids sold online may be contaminated, expired, or even counterfeit, and are likely to jeopardize patients’ health.
Opioids sold online may be contaminated, expired, or even counterfeit, and are likely to jeopardize patients’ health.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued warnings to 9 online companies selling illegal opioid medications on 53 websites, in direct violation of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act.

The agency requested that these companies address the issue within 10 working days, and stop illicit marketing of these drugs that include oxycodone and tramadol, the FDA-approved versions of which carry black box warnings. These products, which may be contaminated, expired, or even counterfeit, are likely to jeopardize patients' health, as their use is associated with serious adverse effects.

“The internet is virtually awash in illegal narcotics and we're going to be taking new steps to work with legitimate internet firms to voluntarily crack down on these sales,” said FDA Commissioner, Scott Gottlieb, MD.

“We'll be following these actions with additional steps in coming months to crack down on the flow of illegal, unapproved opioids sold online and shipped through the mail," he added. The agency is organizing an Online Opioid Summit, to take place on June 27, 2018, to which internet and government stakeholders, researchers and advocacy groups have been invited to discuss strategies to combat illegal sales of opioids online.

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Reference

FDA news release. FDA takes action against 53 websites marketing unapproved opioids as part of a comprehensive effort to target illegal online sales. Accessed June 5, 2018.

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