Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Miami Herald: U.S. Agents Search for Dangerous Foreign Drugs in Mail

“The Food and Drug Administration stepped up inspections of counterfeit prescription drugs smuggled into Miami and other cities through the U.S. mail.”

Jay Weaver in the Miami Herald writes an interesting story which appeared in the May 14th edition about the interdiction of dangerous foreign drugs at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration Foreign-Mail Inspection Facility in West Miami-Dade.

Earlier this month, “dozens of federal agents completed a three-day blitz at the facility, poring through piles of packages filled with illegal pharmaceutical drugs, dietary supplements and home remedies mailed from foreign countries.”

The FDA led operation, was designed to interdict thousands of unapproved medicines, most of which were sent from Latin America and the Caribbean.

Here are some of the highlights from the Mr. Weaver’s article:

· The FDA has zeroed in on hot spots such as Miami, Los Angeles and New York for random inspections of counterfeit and misbranded prescription products that are not allowed to enter the country.

· Many are purchased from foreign suppliers over the Internet, an increasingly risky shopping place for pharmaceutical drugs with unsafe ingredients, inaccurate dosages and false expiration dates.

· ``When counterfeit and unapproved drugs come into this country, it is compromising the overall drug system that we have,'' said David K. Elder, a senior FDA official. ``We're trying to prevent their release into the U.S. market.''

· The vast majority of intercepted pharmaceuticals, diet pills and home remedies are returned to sender. ``We have no authority to destroy them,'' Charles-Julien said. ``We have to send them back.''

· Some inspections have led to criminal investigations by the FDA and ICE, including South Florida probes into Brazilian diet pills laced with speed that are sold over the Internet.

· Last year, the Miami Customs facility processed about 36 million pieces of foreign mail. Of that total, inspectors referred between 8,000 and 10,000 foreign parcels containing unapproved medications to the FDA for further evaluation.

· Last year, FDA and ICE agents completed a major criminal investigation in Houston that targeted Chinese national Kevin Xu. He was convicted of distributing counterfeit and misbranded drugs for blood clots, prostate cancer, Alzheimer's and schizophrenia.

· In 2008, federal prosecutors in Denver indicted a Greek national, Georgios Xydeas, on charges of selling counterfeit and misbranded prescription drugs. He was accused of selling the Chinese-supplied drugs, such as Viagra, Cialis and Xanax, to Internet pharmacies.

· FDA special agent Michael Kurisky said… that buying prescription drugs from Canadian suppliers might seem safe. But he stressed that many Canadian website distributors are supplied by sources in Asia or Eastern Europe. Said Kurisky: ``The ingredients are bad.''

This article demonstrates just one of the ways that fraudulent, adulterated and counterfeit medications enter this country illegally and find their way into the domestic pharmaceutical supply chain.

Secure Pharma Chain Blog recommends that all members of the supply chain utilize a variety of technologies to protect themselves from allowing these bogus medications into their inventories.

To learn more about authentication solutions that verify the contents of a product inside its unit-of-sale container, visit: http://www.xstreamsystems.net/.

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