ONLINE PHARMACIES: FDA Cracks Down of Sale of Unapproved Drugs
In an attempt to stop Internet pharmacies from selling unapproved drugs, the FDA has targeted companies that sell laetrile, an "unapproved but once very popular cancer treatment," the Washington Post reports. Three related companies -- World International Inc., World Without Cancer Inc. and Health Genesis Corp. -- were temporarily closed by a federal judge last week after they sold the drug, also known as Vitamin B-17 or amygdalin, to federal agents over the Internet. The FDA is seeking a permanent injunction against the companies. John Taylor, the FDA's enforcement office director, said, "The agency recognizes that the Internet has become a very popular tool for marketing unapproved drugs. There are a lot of Web sites out there, and we are systematically trying to pick and choose those sites that need to be dealt with first." According to the FDA's complaint, the online pharmacies allegedly mailed materials to federal agents claiming that laetrile products "could not only cure cancers, but could also prevent them." The FDA argued that such claims indicate that laetrile was being sold as a drug, although it has never received FDA approval. Taylor indicated the FDA is continuing to investigate online sales of laetrile and other unapproved drugs. He said, "We are hoping that news of our actions will dry up the customer base by educating consumers. But we are under no illusion that these are the only three sites out there selling unapproved drugs." Earlier this year, the FDA took action against sites in Ohio and New York that sold laetrile (Kaufman, 9/7).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.