The FDA is cracking down on websites illegally selling opioids – MarketWatch

The Food and Drug Administration is cracking down on websites like “AnonShop,” “Remedy Mart,” “TramadolHub” and “One Stop Pharma” that are illegally selling opioid medications, including unapproved versions of the pain medications tramadol and oxycodone.
The FDA warned nine networks, representing 53 websites, in late May to stop selling the products or face a regulatory action, such as having the products seized or being served with an injunction.
In a Tuesday announcement disclosing the warnings, FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb described the internet as “virtually awash in illegal narcotics,” and signaled that additional actions would be coming, through partnerships with “internet stakeholders.”
See: Opioids are ravaging the U.S., but they’re still the best pain drug we’ve got
The latest move by the FDA marks a new focus on illegal online sales of opioids, known to be a major factor in the U.S.’s yearslong opioid crisis. Earlier this year, Gottlieb warned that ads for illegal opioids proliferated on social media and search websites like Twitter TWTR, +0.20%, Facebook FB, -0.20%  and its Instagram unit, privately-held Reddit, Alphabet’s Google GOOGL, -0.53%   GOOG, -0.40%, Altaba’s US:AABA  Yahoo and Microsoft’s MSFT, +0.05% Bing, and said he wanted to work with the companies to address it.
Read: Opioid ads abound on social media and websites, FDA commissioner says

On Tuesday, the FDA emphasized that prescription opioid medications bought illegally online may be unapproved or misbranded, and could be dangerous or unsafe in other ways, including being counterfeit, contaminated or expired.
The sale of unapproved tramadol and oxycodone is especially troubling because the medications carry risk of serious or life-threatening side effects, the FDA said.
Related: Controversial supplement kratom is an opioid, FDA says
Some of the online networks were selling unapproved tramadol using different names, including “Eassybuyonline,” selling the drug under the name “Citra,” and “AnonShop,” under the name “Tramal,” according to FDA warning letters.
“” was also selling unapproved tramadol — which it dubbed “Ultram” — without a prescription, according to a warning letter sent to the company in late May. “One Stop Pharma” sold unapproved oxycodone as “Roxycodone” without a prescription, the FDA said in a separate warning letter.
Though most networks were linked with one or a handful of websites, one — “RXCash.Biz” — was connected to 14 websites marketing illegal opioids, according to an FDA warning letter.
The FDA warning letters requested responses be sent within 10 working days to the FDA’s Internet Pharmacy Task Force. The regulator also plans an “Online Opioid Summit” in late June to focus on combating the internet’s role in illegal opioid sales.
The FDA didn’t disclose any responses on Tuesday.
Companies that manufacture approved opioids include privately-held Purdue Pharma, Insys Therapeutics Inc. US:INSY, Endo International PLC ENDP, +0.85%, Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd. TEVA, +3.87%, Johnson & Johnson JNJ, +1.35% and Allergan US:AGN.
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