Healthcare

FDA cracks down on online sales of unapproved opioids

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is cracking down on websites marketing unapproved opioids, which could be dangerous to consumers who take them.

The FDA warned 53 websites Tuesday that they must stop "illegally marketing potentially dangerous, unapproved and misbranded versions of opioid medications," including tramadol and oxycodone.

"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," FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb said in a statement. 

Gottlieb warned that it will take action against firms whose websites "deliberately break the law." 

"This illegal online marketing of unapproved opioids is contributing to the nation's opioid crisis," Gottlieb said.

"Today's warning letters go right to the source of this illegal activity to let online network operators know that marketing illegal and unapproved opioids directly to U.S. consumers will not go unchallenged by the FDA."

Gottlieb warns consumers that opioids bought online may be counterfeit and contain other dangerous substances. While marketed as authentic, some may be contaminated, expired or unsafe. 

"Consumers who use these products take significant risk with their lives," he said. 

"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." 

Websites like AnonShop, Eassybuyonline, and One Stop Pharma, as well as others, all received warnings, the FDA said. 

The FDA requests responses from the companies within 10 working days, and are required to inform the agency of the specific actions it will take. 

The sale of unapproved opioids through illegal websites have been a concern of those fighting the opioid epidemic in the U.S. Sometimes the drugs can be laced with Fentanyl, a drug that is 50 times stronger than heroin and 100 times more potent than morphine. 

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