CINCINNATI—Last Thursday, February 4, Cincinnati CBP officers seized 41 ½ pounds, approximately 17,400 pills, of Viagra in a large shipment headed to an individual in Florissant, MO. The shipment also held 43 boxes—an additional 36 pounds—of “miracle honey,” or honey laced with sildenafil, the active ingredient in Viagra. Officers found the illegally imported medications while inspecting a shipment of herbal pasta coming from Istanbul, Turkey. Had they been legally sold, the pills would have had an estimated manufacturer’s suggested retail price (MSRP) of $1,234,400.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulates pharmaceuticals and products marketed as dietary supplements that contain an active pharmaceutical ingredient. Because only three percent of online pharmacies reviewed by the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy are in compliance with U.S. pharmacy laws and practice standards, purchasing controlled substances through online vendors is risky not only for the consumer’s health, but also their wallet.
“The FDA is concerned about the illegal importation of prescription medications as these drug products may pose a significant risk to public health. Like the products seized by our partners at CBP, these products are not always made under good manufacturing practice (GMP) conditions,” said Assistant Commissioner for Import Operations Dan Solis. “All prescription products should only be used under the supervision of medical professionals able to identify appropriate products for patients and monitor for potential side effects. Our strong relationship with CBP enables the kind of collaborative work necessary to best apply each agency’s authority and enforcement tools and prevent potentially dangerous medical products from entering the US.”
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. Additionally, transnational criminal organizations often ship illicit goods to the United States via small packages because of a perceived lower interdiction risk and less severe consequences if the package is interdicted. As buying habits change and more products are purchased online, it is critical for consumers to be aware of the dangers and complications involved in ordering products such as medication through online sellers.
“Our highly-skilled officers continue to focus on our mission to protect our country and its citizens,” said Port Director Richard Gillespie. “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.”