The U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration issued joint warning letters to online pharmacies for illegally marketing unapproved and misbranded versions of opioid medicines. The warning letters order the websites to stop the marketing and sale of these opioid products. The government told them that they have fifteen business days to report back on how they have addressed the violations that were identified.
The is the first time that the FDA and the DEA have worked together to issue joint warning letters. In a statement, the FDA said that, "This joint action demonstrates the federal government’s commitment to enhance interagency coordination to respond to the opioid crisis." Acting DEA Administrator Uttam Dhillon echoed this, saying, “Issuing these warning letters is not only an effort to deter the availability of dangerous illegal opioids, but it is also a testament to the close cooperation between DEA and FDA.”
As internet fraud -- particularly for healthcare products -- continues to be a significant concern, the U.S. government is looking for new and more aggressive ways to attack the problem, including by having agencies pool their resources and work together on these issues. For example, recently, we've reported on joint FDA and FTC actions related to health claims, cannabis, influencers, and e-liquids. We should expect to see more of these types of joint enforcement actions in the future.
“As the FDA works to forcefully tackle the opioid crisis on all fronts, we cannot allow rogue online pharmacies to continue to fuel the crisis by illegally offering opioids for sale and circumventing the important safeguards that have been put in place for opioids to help protect the public health" -- Acting FDA Commissioner Ned Sharpless