The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is warning online medication buyers about a drug warning scam. The FDA has received a number of complaints about ordering medication online and instead receiving a warning letter. This appears to be an international extortion scam.
In a time of skyrocketing health insurance costs and ever-increasing medication cost increases, many people are unable to pay the price for a number of medications. Many people are finding a way to get their medication at a lower cost are turning to the Internet. They are discovering a number of pharmacy websites offering medications at significantly lower prices.
Many of the online pharmacies are located outside the U.S. According to a report issued by the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy in 2015, a review of nearly 11,000 prescription drug websites discovered that roughly 96% of those websites are not in compliance with U.S. laws, patents, and patient-safety standards. For some people who order medication from one of these websites, they are trading off safety risks for lower prices. In addition, a number of people are not aware of the risks involved in purchasing their medications in this way.
Today, we learned that these people are the targets of a drug warning extortion scam. If you receive one of these letters, please notify the FDA and do not respond to the letter.
The letters look legitimate, using the official FDA logo and correct address. One letter shared with the FDA claimed to be from the U.S. Federal Trade Commission. One thing that is consistent across the letters is bad grammar and unusual terminology choices.
Some of the letters are notifications that consumers have violated sections of the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act. Recipients of the letters are asked to notify the FDA “of the specific steps that you have taken to correct those violations.” The letters also contain warnings that recipients should not contact sellers and they threaten “necessary legal steps” if recipients engage in any “suspicious activity.”
The FDA said that this is the first scam they have seen using fake warning letters. The FDA does send out warning notifications to consumers to alert them to potential harm. Unless involved in manufacturing or distributing items regulated by the FDA, consumers who receive these letters should view them as a scam. The FDA also stated that the agency typically does not take action against individuals for simply buying medication online.
There are many scams that are designed to extort money from consumers. Any time that you receive a letter, notification, or phone or email demand that seems at all out of order, call the FDA, the Consumer Safety Administration, or the Federal Trade Commission. They will be able to help you determine the authenticity of the communication. If the communication is a scam, they will want to gather information from you.