FDA and DEA Form Joint Task Force To End Illegal Sales of Prescription Narcotics
The FDA and the Drug Enforcement Administration have formed a special task force to combat the illegal sale of prescription narcotics on the Internet, the New York Times reports. The task force, called Operation Gray Lord, will "aggressively" target prescription narcotics sellers and will include Justice Department personnel and local law enforcement agents and could include top law enforcement officials from Canada, where much of the trade in prescription drugs originates, according to the Times. A recent FDA examination of 1,153 packages of imported drugs revealed that 25 different controlled medications were among the drugs. Some Internet pharmacies have recently ended the "pretense" of requiring a doctor's prescription to sell prescription drugs and have included offers for prescription narcotics in e-mail solicitations, the Times reports. A recently released report by Bo Dietl, a private investigator hired by the pharmaceutical industry, found that more than 350 of 1,400 Web sites selling prescription drugs did not require a doctor's prescription. "Like anyone else, I'm inundated with spam for hydrocodone, Valium and Ambien," Elizabeth Willis, chief of the drug operation section of the DEA's office of diversion control, said, adding that many of the e-mails are difficult to trace. "Some are registered in Europe, but the drugs are sent from Africa," Willis said. Task force members acknowledge that pursuing illegal sellers of prescription narcotics will be difficult. According to an unnamed high-ranking FDA official, the agency is currently conducting 90 Internet drug investigations (Harris, New York Times, 10/18).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.