Fake Drugs Among Purchases Linked to Canadian Firm

Associated Press
Thursday, August 31, 2006

Testing has found fake versions of Lipitor and other widely used prescription drugs in orders purchased through Web sites linked to a Canadian pharmacy, the Food and Drug Administration said yesterday.

Consumers who bought drugs through the 10 Web sites should not use the medications because they may not be safe, the FDA said. The sites include RxNorth.com, CanadianDrugstore.com and RxbyFax.com. Prescriptions ordered through the sites are filled by Mediplan Prescription Plus Pharmacy, also known as Mediplan Global Health, according to the FDA and information posted on the sites. A call seeking comment from the Manitoba company was not immediately returned.

U.S. officials have intercepted and seized thousands of prescriptions filled by the pharmacy in recent months, FDA Associate Commissioner Randall Lutter said. Subsequent testing has revealed counterfeit versions of the cholesterol drugs Lipitor and Crestor, as well as the painkiller Celebrex, blood-pressure medication Diovan, baldness treatment Propecia and five other prescription drugs, the FDA said. Some of the drugs contained the active ingredients found in genuine versions, but at lower concentrations, the FDA said.

Canadian Internet pharmacies catering to Americans debuted about six years ago, after U.S. border-state seniors began going north in search of lower-priced prescription drugs.

Drugs ordered through the Mediplan-linked sites and intercepted by U.S. officials were not shipped from Canada, Lutter said. Importing drugs into the United States is illegal, but the FDA generally does not stop small shipments purchased for personal use.

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