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Crackdown on online pharmacies

More than 1,500 sites shut down in worldwide enforcement action against sites illegally selling prescription drugs.

By Mitch Lipka Jun 27, 2013 5:48PM
Image: Pills with computer (© Tom Grill/Getty Images/Getty Images)A collection of international law enforcement and regulatory agencies went after nearly 10,000 websites selling prescription drugs -- shutting down 1,677 sites and seizing more than $41 million in illegal medicine, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration said today.

A lot of the sites seemed to be capitalizing on the interest many Americans have in buying from Canadian pharmacies, which sell many prescription medicines at deep discounts to U.S. prices. However, the FDA said many of the sites "appeared to be operating as a part of an organized criminal network that falsely purported its websites to be 'Canadian Pharmacies.'"

Instead of getting the advertised name brand drugs from Canada, consumers were actually getting counterfeits from other countries. Many of the sites claimed to have a variety of licenses and certifications and posted logos to create the illusion of legitimacy, the FDA said. "These websites also used certain major U.S. pharmacy retailer names to trick U.S. consumers into believing an affiliation existed with these retailers," the agency said.

Here are some examples of sites with names intended to dupe consumers (all now have a banner from the FDA showing the sites have been seized):,, and

Officials said buying from these pharmacies can be dangerous since there is no way to know whether you're getting a legitimate product or fake being sold by a crook in some far off land.

"Illegal online pharmacies put American consumers' health at risk by selling potentially dangerous products," said John Roth, director of the FDA’s Office of Criminal Investigations. "This is an ongoing battle in the United States and abroad, and the FDA will continue its criminal law enforcement and regulatory efforts."

Among the drugs seized in the crackdown were "Generic Celebrex," altered versions of erectile dysfunction drugs Levitra and Viagra, and the schizophrenia medicine clozapine. None of these versions have been FDA-approved.

The FDA also warned that on top of potential health problems caused by taking such drugs, using these sites also opens consumers to a variety of frauds -- including identity theft -- as well as computer viruses.

To help consumers identify whether they are dealing with an illegal site and help them find a legitimate one, the FDA created a guide: BeSafeRx: Know Your Online Pharmacy.

More from MSN Money:

Jun 27, 2013 7:23PM

I am a senior on social security with serious arthritis....last year I was prescribed Celebrex which has been a tremendous help.  The drug company that makes Celebrex was kind enough to help me out with the medication but when our illustrious president gave seniors a

raise (30 dollars) per month it made me ineligible for the company help and caused me to have to pay $131.00 per month for Celebrex

from Walmart which by the way is the most reasonable out there. 


Someone suggested I call Canada drugs and see if I could get Celebrex from them...I did and they had a generic for the drug ( which is

not available in America) and I have been buying from them since then.....Now they are gone and what are we supposed to do for



What kind of system makes Americans go to Canada for meds that are made in America???

Jun 27, 2013 6:57PM
The FDA is not protecting the consumer, but Big Drug Co..
Jun 27, 2013 7:59PM
The FDA is nothing more than the pharmaceutical industry's b*tch. They're not interested in protecting us. Their only interest is to eliminate competition from other providers not operating in the US. If other country's drugs were not safe or didn't work, their websites wouldn't be so popular and widespread.
Jun 27, 2013 7:53PM

Big pharma doesn't want us to get our drugs for cheap.

Us Americans are the ones that pay for  all the R&D to make the new drugs so everyone else can get them cheaper.

The FDA is just looking out for them so they can keep making hundreds of millions in profits.

In dec 2012 they had a 41.9% profit margin on 2.44 billion in sales do you want them to give that up????? lol


Jun 27, 2013 6:31PM
Every fourteen minutes someone dies from prescription drugs...I think we have a bigger problem that the FDA is turning a blind eye to.  America is 5% of the worlds population, yet we consume 55% of the worlds prescription drugs, of course other's want to cash in on our addictions!  
Jun 27, 2013 8:12PM
Can you say prescription payola?  It involves more than just a free lunch or tickets to the ball game.  With the patents running out on items like Viagra, it is easier for generic pharmaceutical's to get big bucks from Pfizer simply for agreeing "not" to make a generic drug like Viagra.  This same concept applies to numerous drugs (many of them life vital) dealing with heart, blood and other life threatening illnesses.  Again, it's all about screwing the people!      
Jun 27, 2013 9:19PM
It would truly be wonderful if the FDA would use their expertise and authority to make food companies label their products ACCURATELY and quit allowing them leeway to put liquid plastic and chemicals and dyes in their products that actually do HARM to people.  But it appears they're more concerned with protecting big business/big pharma, rather than people.  This country is going to hell in a hand-basket.
Jun 28, 2013 9:02AM
I have Rheumatoid Arthritis and no insurance.  I order my medications from online pharmacies based either in the UK or Canada because what I pay approximately $400 a year for that way, would cost me around $3,500 a year in the U.S. (cash)!!  If the pharmaceutical industry was not allowed to get away with the despicable crime of overcharging sick Americans we wouldn't have to resort to buying our meds this way.  I MAY get a bad batch someday and die....but OH WELL!!
Jun 27, 2013 6:20PM
I would suspect this is because drugs online are cheaper.  The Washington Taliban wants all the money.  They need it for half million dollar hotel sweets overseas.  The FDA (Future Destruction of America, here today) is destroying our country.  All doctor offices filled to capacity.  People are filling cemeteries fast!!  But, nobody will admit legal drugs are a part of that filling up.
Jun 28, 2013 9:04AM

This much is certain: pharmaceutical companies, insurance companies, doctors and hospitals do not want anybody cutting into their business






Jun 28, 2013 9:18AM

The U.S, government is not protecting the American consumer, the congress is bought by pharmaceutical lobbyist, drugs here should be the same or cheaper than in Canada. How can a U.S. pharmaceutical charge more for it's drugs in the U.S.

Here the government don't get to bid on the drugs, that got wrote into the medicare prescription bill.

The buying power of the government if allowed to bid would drive the cost of these drugs down.

They are not going after the online pharmacy for selling illegal prescription drugs, they are shutting down the cheap Canadian drugs for their pharmaceutical lobbyist that stick cash in their pockets.

Jun 27, 2013 7:42PM

We have this problem because most people do not want to socialize medicine. If medicine were socialized (like it is in Canada, duh), we would not have to pay as much for medication.


You cannot complain about the way the government handles such things and praise Canada, and then turn around and dis the idea of socialized medicine. Do you want socialized medicine or not? Pick--but then live with the ramifications of your decisions.

Jun 27, 2013 11:15PM
Kind of funny that on-line pharmacies are being shut down when many drug companies ship their medications to homes.  Maybe instead of shutting them down they should work out a way to keep them open.
Jun 28, 2013 12:32AM
There is so much worry about Big Pharma screwing the American public that people are forgetting that there really are shady sites selling pills without active ingredients.  I recognize the name of one of the companies mentioned in this article as one of the companies that supplied pills that were nothing but celluose with a coating that made them look a little like multivitamins.  I was involved in a study where we ordered pills from a variety of these sites and analyzed them.  Most of them had no active ingredients and a few had just a little bit of the ingredient that they claimed was in it.  It isnt always a conspiracy by big business...sometimes it is the little crooks that are trying to get your money.
Jun 27, 2013 6:13PM
holy **** there really is an internet police.  the consequences will never be the same.
Jun 28, 2013 11:44AM
Guitarick..........Many people in this country that need medication don't have insurance or prescription coverage and just SIMPLY CANNOT AFFORD U.S. PRICES.  Most (including me) do NOT want to purchase their medications online from Canada or the U.K., but financially have no choice. I posted earlier that my RA medication online from Canada or the U.K. costs me out-of-pocket approximately $500 - $600 a year but my local Walgreen or CVS wants well over $3,000 for the exact same thing.  So while I absolutely DO have common sense, I unfortunately do not have as much money as common sense.  
Jun 27, 2013 7:41PM
Seems Obamas FDA doesn't want you buying RX from legitimates pharmacies either. The only administration approved sources are found at
Jun 28, 2013 1:06PM

Why are drugs so much more expensive in the US? Why is the US paying for the entire world's drug development costs?


The answer: The insurance system. The most inefficient and anti-free market system on the planet.

Jun 28, 2013 12:12PM
I twitch a little more and don't remember my name,address, ect.on the over seas medicine but I am saving a lot of money.
Jun 28, 2013 2:15PM
It's ridiculous that an American-made drug is cheaper in Canada than it is in the United States.  The difference is that the Canadian government doesn't tolerate the drug companies' price gouging the way it is tolerated here.  The government actually cares whether a person needs to choose between food and medicine.  Our congress is paid off by the drug companies to take care of their interests, not the American people's interest.
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