FDA Warns of Fake Tamiflu Sold on Internet

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If you have purchased any Tamiflu (oseltamivir) from an Internet website recently, it may be fake. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a warning that a potentially harmful product sold as “Generic Tamiflu” does not contain oseltamivir, the correct active ingredient in Tamiflu. Instead, it contains an antibiotic called cloxacillin, which can be dangerous to people who are allergic to penicillin.

The Generic Tamiflu, which the FDA purchased from an online drugstore that is no longer operational, arrived in an unmarked envelope postmarked from India. The capsules inside were yellow and tan and contained white powder. The foil backing on the blister packs were labeled in part “Oseltamivir Phosphate 75 mg. Capsules TM-FLU Capsules” and “Manufactured by: TRYDRUGS Pharmaceuticals PVPT.LTD.”

If you have any of these drugs in your possession, do not use them and report them to the FDA’s Office of Criminal Investigations at 800-551-3989. You can also visit the OCI website at http://www.fda.gov/OCI.

The fake Tamiflu may cause a life-threatening allergic reaction, anaphylaxis, in people who are allergic to penicillin. Symptoms of anaphylaxis include difficulty breathing, swelling of the throat or tongue, dizziness, hives, loss of consciousness, tightness of the chest, and rapid or weak pulse.

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The FDA explains that there are no FDA-approved generic forms of Tamiflu, and that consumers should not purchase any item that purports to be so. Even though the website that was selling the Generic Tamiflu is no longer accessible, other sites are likely selling fake versions of the prescription drug as well.

Margaret A. Hamburg, MD, Commissioner of Food and Drugs, warns consumers that “a rogue Internet website marketing drug products may look like a professional and legitimate website, but may actually be an illegal operation.”

In October 2009, the FDA issued a warning about other fraudulent H1N1 flu products represented online as Tamiflu. In that case, the FDA purchased and analyzed several of the fake products, which also arrived in an unmarked envelope with a postmark from India. In the 2009 warning, however, the inspectors found that the tablets contained talc and acetaminophen and none of the active ingredient oseltamivir. As in the current case, the web site disappeared.

However, this earlier case demonstrates that individuals who operate such scams continue to do so, which means consumers need to be aware and to know how to recognize a legitimate Internet pharmacy and how to purchase medications from them safely. Consumers should look for the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy Verified Internet Pharmacy Sites Seal (VIPPS Seal) on a website to make sure they are dealing with a pharmacy that meets state licensure requirements. You can see a list of legitimate pharmacies that have the VIPPS seal.

The sale of fake Tamiflu on the Internet is just one of many medications scams that have become an unfortunate part of the world of cyberspace. Consumers should always check the validity of an Internet pharmacy or website that is selling drugs. Don’t be a victim of Internet medication fraud. Adverse events related to use of fake products should be reported to the FDA’s MedWatch Program at 800-FDA-1088.

SOURCE:
Food and Drug Administration news release, June 17, 2010

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