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| Grewal Law, PLLC

Illegally Sold Prescription Drugs Proliferate Online

It doesn’t take much to get a hold of a prescription drug these days; in fact, a recent article in Slate magazine outlined the alarming simplicity of ordering prescription drugs online from popular merchants such as Amazon.  From muscle relaxants to antibiotics, it isn’t difficult to obtain prescription drugs that should really only be prescribed and supervised by a doctor.  Some of these medications can be incredibly addictive and dangerous when combined with alcohol, and others could contribute to the ongoing issue of antibiotic overuse and the growth of antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

FDA Seizes Hundreds of Illegal Packages from Amazon

At the time of the article, the FDA and U.S. Customs and Border Protection implemented a search and seizure of illegal prescription drugs in several shipping facilities in New York, Chicago, and L.A. on their way to consumers in the states.  While the FDA won’t confirm whether the seized goods were sold via Amazon, this website causes serious problems for agents attempting to intercede illegal prescription drug sales because of the mass volume of sales and because shipments tend to be brought in the middle of the night.  This makes it more of a “random sampling” of products when agents attempt to uncover illegal shipments of prescription drugs and fails to fully rectify the problem.

Consumers Won’t be Prosecuted, But Corporations Could Be

The FDA and U.S. Customs and Border Protection agencies are involved in a sting operation called “Operation Pangea VII” in conjunction with Interpol.  During this investigation, the FDA found 1,975 websites illegally selling prescription medications to U.S. consumers.  The agency sent warnings to the websites warning them of the illegal activities taking place on their servers.  So far, Amazon has managed to evade serious problems but it’s unlikely that the individual consumer will be punished for purchasing illegal prescription drugs because they may not even realizing they are committing a crime.  Amazon, and companies like it, profit largely from the sales of illegal prescription drugs.  For example, the author of the recent Slate article mentioned that when his wife unknowingly purchased illegal antibiotics for acne from Amazon, the website profited 15% of the sale.  It is up to the Customs and International Bar Association to take the necessary actions to prosecute websites engaged in illegal sales of prescription drugs, but first the FDA must target the problem.  

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