The first counterfeit -
none of the pharmacies was Canadian
It took years to shut them down them, but the U.S. Food and Drug Administration was able to close 1,677 web sites that said they were "Canadian pharmacies." The sites looked legitimate, yet these were not examples of non-U.S. pharmacies that sold cheaper versions of U. S. prescription drugs - these were fake Canadian pharmacies that sold counterfeit drugs that did not come from Canada.
The FDA worked with computer scientists to identify which web site pages were actually Canadian pharmacies and which were not. Once they identified the possible fake sites, which were all variations of eight templates the illegal drug network created (and looked like real websites from real pharmacies like CVS, Walmart and Walgreens), the only way to be sure that the site was fake was to order the drugs and see if the drugs were fake, too.
Agents began purchasing drugs to see what they would get.
They were never asked for actual prescriptions or any medical information, and after one agent ordered the drugs, they arrived, postmarked from India. They were not the branded drugs ordered. Instead, they were drugs that were illegal to sell in the U.S. that supposedly contained the same active ingredient.
My favorite detail is the message on one package:
“sample - hermless medicine for personal use — ‘Not for sale.’”Authorities think the sites were being run by a criminal network operating from Russia and the Middle East.
Pill of Goods: International Counterfeit Drug Ring Hit in Massive Sting, Scientific American>>