Weight loss drug mix-up – more risks using internet pharmacies

While the blogosphere buzz is the potential anti-obesity therapy put forth by Ron Evans’ group to turn on PPAR-delta, I was reminded of shortcomings in our nation’s drug distribution system from the FDA Medwatch program. (I’ve written about this topic before here and here.).
The latest alert regards a mix-up of weight loss drugs:

MedWatch – The FDA Safety Information and Adverse Event Reporting Program
FDA informed consumers and healthcare professionals regarding the dangers associated with buying prescription drugs over the internet.
FDA received information showing that 24 apparently related websites may be involved in the distribution of counterfeit prescription drugs. The website appear to be operated from outside the United States.

On three occasions during recent months, consumers obtained counterfeit versions of Xenical 120 mg Capsules, a drug used to help obese individuals who meet certain weight and height requirements to lose and maintain weight loss, from two different websites. Instead of receiving Xenical, a product manufactured by Hoffmann-LaRoche Inc, consumers received sibutramine, the active ingredient in Meridia. Although Meridia is also used to lose and maintain weight loss, the drug should not be used in certain patient populations and is not a substitute for other weight loss products. Consumers should be wary if there is no way to contact the website pharmacy by phone, if prices are dramatically lower than the competition, or if no prescription from their doctor is required. Additionally, consumers are urged to review the FDA web page at www.fda.gov/buyonline for additional information prior to making purchases of prescription drugs over the internet. See FDA press release for the list of the 24 web site[s] that may be involved in the distribution of counterfeit prescription drugs.
Read the complete 2007 MedWatch 2007 Safety summary, including a link to the FDA Press Release regarding this issue at:
http://www.fda.gov/medwatch/safety/2007/safety07.htm#Counterfeit

So, if Evans’ drug ever makes it to market, one still has to be concerned that wholesalers and internet pharmacies fill the prescriptions with the correct drug.

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