The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently issued warning letters to nine online networks that operate a total of 53 websites. The FDA said that the websites needed to stop illegally marketing opioid medications to American citizens and may be subject to enforcement action if they do not do comply within ten working days. A review by PSM of some of the websites that had yet to comply with the warning found a variety of opioids for sale including hydrocodone, oxycodone, OxyContin, tramadol, Soma, Lortab, and Norco, along with other classes of drugs.

FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb said, “This illegal online marketing of unapproved opioids is contributing to the nation’s opioid crisis. 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. Opioids bought online may be counterfeit and could contain other dangerous substances. Consumers who use these products take significant risk with their lives. The new warning letters are part of a comprehensive campaign to target illegal sales of unapproved opioids. 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.”

Warning letters were sent to AnonShop, Eassybuyonline, Instabill ECS-Rx, Medstore.biz, One Stop Pharma, RemedyMart, RxCash.Biz, TramadolHub, and XLPharmacy. Additionally, the FDA will be holding an Online Opioid Summit on June 27, 2018. Internet stakeholders and key thought-leaders will discuss stronger steps to reduce the availability of illicit opioids online. Topics will include looking at how easy it is to obtain illicit opioids online and how the industry approaches online opioid marketing and will be followed up by a roundtable conversation to identify any known gaps or new solutions.

The FDA warned that in addition to health risks associated with pills purchased from illegal online pharmacies, consumers also put themselves at risk for credit card fraud, identity theft, and computer viruses. If you suspect you are a victim of criminal activity after purchasing pills from an online pharmacy, the FDA encourages you to submit a report to the FDA’s Office of Criminal Investigation. If you are thinking of buying any prescription medications online, the FDA created BeSafeRx: Know Your Online Pharmacy campaign to help you identify illegal online pharmacies and learn how to purchase medicines online safely.