Customs stops 'unapproved' prescription meds, valued $460,000

U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers in Louisville seized nearly 6,800 unapproved Viagra and Cialis pills, which were heading from Hong Kong to Montreal. (U.S. Customs and Boarder Protection photo)

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (KT) –  U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers in Louisville seized a shipment containing 4,780 unapproved Viagra pills and 2,000 unapproved Cialis pills from Hong Kong headed to an individual in Montreal, Quebec Canada.

If genuine, and approved by the FDA, the pills would have had an estimated value of more than $460,000.

The U. S. Food and Drug Administration regulates pharmaceuticals containing an active pharmaceutical ingredient.  Because only three percent of online pharmacies reviewed by the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy comply with U.S. pharmacy laws and practice standards, the CBP warns that purchasing controlled substances through online vendors is risky.

“Our officers are dedicated to identifying and intercepting these types of shipments that could potentially harm our communities,” said LaFonda Sutton-Burke, director of Field Operation in the Chicago Field Office, which oversees operations in Louisville.  “Consumers do not realize the risk they are taking when using prescription drugs from other countries. These non-regulated drugs could cause health concerns or even death."

E-commerce has expanded foreign sellers’ market access to the United States. However, these sellers may not have all pertinent information to comply with U.S. admissibility law. As buying habits change and more products are purchased online, the CBP says it is critical for consumers to be aware of the dangers and complications involved in ordering products such as medication through online sellers. The medications can be improperly produced without pharmacological specifications and safeguards that ensure the protection of human health.

Prescription medications manufactured in non-regulated foreign companies often contain dangerous contaminants or ineffective compounds, and though their packaging and labeling can be similar to genuine products, inconsistent ingredients and sub-par quality controls can endanger the consumer.

“CBP works closely with FDA and other partner agencies to effect this mission and make sure controlled substances with unknown additives or inferior standards do not make their way into American households,” said Louisville Port Director Thomas Mahn.

The FDA recommends consumers talk to their health care professional about their condition and consider buying prescription medications from state-licensed pharmacies in the U.S.


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