In its latest move to deal with the nation’s growing opioid epidemic, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on June 5, 2018 sent warning letters to operators of 53 websites across nine online networks to halt illegal marketing of “dangerous, unapproved and misbranded versions of opioid medications,” including oxycodone and tramadol. The drug regulator has sought responses from the website operators within 10 working days, and said that action would be taken against the companies that fail to correct their ways.
“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,” said FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb. He also said that opioids bought online posed a health risk to users as these drugs could be counterfeit, contaminated or simply unsafe.
The online networks that have received the FDA’s warning include TramadolHub, RemedyMart, Eassybuyonline, Medstore.biz, One Stop Pharma, AnonShop, RxCash.Biz, and XLPharmacy. As part of the FDA’s efforts to curb the online sales of opioids, Gottlieb has also invited academic researchers, advocacy groups, governmental agencies and internet stakeholders to an Online Opioid Summit to discuss various ways to reduce the online availability of illicit opioids. The one-day summit is scheduled to be held in Silver Spring, Maryland, on June 27, 2018.
Experts say that online sales of counterfeit medications have aggravated the opioid crisis. According to a report published by the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy (NABP), all the 100 websites evaluated by the association were operating illegally. The survey found that 98 percent did not ask for a prescription, and 76 percent were found to offer drugs not approved by FDA. The Association also reported that more than half (54 percent) of the websites were found selling controlled substances, including opioids.
Dealing with opioid crisis
The FDA has taken a number of steps in the past to curb the growing menace of opioid addiction. Earlier this year, the agency called on drug manufacturers to change their packaging and reduce the number of doses available per product unit. In April this year, Gottlieb had blamed internet giants, including Twitter, Google, Facebook and Reddit, for their failure to check illicit sales of opioids. The FDA chief went on to accuse these sites of facilitating online drug sales and of not taking practical steps to deal with the opioid crisis. In May this year, the FDA had issued warning letters to three kratom manufacturers, and earlier this month, it had announced its plans to use a multicomponent system of pharmacovigilance (PV) to detect the next wave of drug abuse.
Road to recovery
The most commonly abused prescription opioid drugs are pain relievers, such as Vicodin or oxycodone (sold under brand names like OxyContin and Roxycodone). Fortunately, addiction to prescription opioid painkillers are treatable with timely medical intervention. A leading rehab center in the U.S., Sovereign Health of Florida offers evidence-based treatment for a variety of addiction-related disorders. Oxycodone addiction treatment at our state-of-the-art centers is customized as per a patient’s needs and focuses on both the physical and psychological effects of oxycodone withdrawal. Depending on an individual’s symptoms, we offer oxycodone detox treatment, along with behavioral therapies. To know more about our treatment programs, call our 24/7 helpline or chat online with one of our counselors.
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