The Food and Drug Administration is warning the public to be aware of unapproved and illegal swine flu products purchased over the Internet.
The warning comes after FDA investigators purchased a drug represented to be Tamiflu, which turned out to be a fraud.
When the investigators got the products, they arrived in an unmarked envelope with a postmark from India. Inside were white tablets taped between two pieces of paper.
FDA analysis found the tablets to contain talc and acetaminophen but none of the active ingredients contained in oseltamivir (Tamiflu).
This was not the only purchase of bogus products. Four other products purchased by the FDA contained varying levels of oseltamivir, but were not approved for use in the U.S. and they did not require a prescription.
The drugs also did not arrive quickly which might be important for someone with the swine flu.
According to the FDA, another Web site marketed a “SilverCure Flu Protection Pack” for $199. The kit contained silver-based shampoo, soap and lotion that purportedly can protect users from the H1N1 virus that is sweeping the nation.
The FDA has disputed the maker’s claim. Instead, you are encouraged to purchase FDA-approved products from licensed pharmacies in the U.S.
“Products that are offered for sale online with claims to diagnose, prevent, mitigate, treat or cure the 2009 H1N1 influenza virus must be carefully evaluated,” said Commissioner of Food and Drugs Margaret A. Hamburg, M.D. “Medicines purchased from Web sites operating outside the law put consumers at increased risk due to a higher potential that the products will be counterfeit, impure, contaminated, or have too little or too much of the active ingredient.”
The FDA warns there are always criminals willing to capitalize on a situation and may be offering a poor copycat formulation. Also beware of giving out your personal information.
Counterfeit drugs can be unsafe and production is increasing. When counterfeiters labeled aspirin tablets as Zyprexa, patients taking the drug for schizophrenia and bipolar disorder got no drug at all.
In the 1980s, over two million unapproved an ineffective Ovulen-21 birth control tablets from Panama were distributed throughout the U.S. after those instances, the FDA published regulations for the Prescription Drug Marketing Act (PDMA) which requires wholesale distributors to list the origin of the drug every step of the way so it can be traced.
The FDA has a unit specifically devoted to purchasing products it finds on the Internet. #