overseas Cipro shipments being halted by US Customs

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FDA blocks overseas Cipro Excerpted for fair use, educational purposes:

October 19, 2001 FDA to Block Illegal Cipro Sales Filed at 2:49 p.m. ET WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Food and Drug Administration has ordered all private Cipro shipments arriving from overseas to be stopped at the border, a move to crack down on illegal Internet antibiotic sales spurred by the anthrax scare.

The FDA also is investigating reports that Internet sites are selling fake Cipro instead of the real medication.

Dozens of Web sites have sprung up in the last two weeks promising to sell anthrax-treating Cipro packages without having to visit a doctor -- at a whopping $7 a pill.

Selling Cipro without a prescription is illegal. Cipro does cause side effects that mean some people should not take it, and some of these Cipro kits don't even promise the proper dose to fend off anthrax. Worse, health authorities worry that some Internet-sold products may not be Cipro but a fake.

Some of these Internet sites are based overseas, and the FDA's alert to U.S. Customs Thursday is the agency's first step in stopping those sales. The agency also is poised to begin sending foreign Web sites warning letters telling them to immediately cease Cipro shipments here, an agency official said Friday.

If the companies do not stop, the FDA's next step would be formal requests to foreign health regulators to intervene, a move that worked two years ago in a similar FDA crackdown on illegal Internet drug sales.

The move comes as state pharmacy boards notified the FDA Thursday that they are beginning investigations into U.S.-based Internet sites illegally selling Cipro.

It is legal to buy prescription drugs over the Internet only if the patient has a legitimate prescription, which online drugstores often require to be faxed to them. Many state laws make clear that filling out an online questionnaire for a doctor employed by the Web site to scan does not meet that requirement.

The FDA's Internet probes come as the government struggles to explain to Americans that only people truly exposed to anthrax should take antibiotics, and that there is enough Cipro and two equally effective drugs -- doxycycline and penicillin -- on hand.

``We think it's a bad idea for consumers to buy these antibiotics and to use them indiscriminantly,'' said FDA pharmacy chief Tom McGinnis. Not only does Cipro cause side effects, but ``we're worried about antibiotic resistance when consumers take them without a legitimate need.''

In addition to the FDA's separate investigation of suspected fake Cipro, a senator has urged Customs and the Federal Trade Commissioner to crack down on all fake anthrax remedies. Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, wrote the agencies that he particularly wants Internet marketers of fake Cipro shut down within the month.

-- Dave (something@somewhere.com), October 19, 2001



As P.T. Barnum so aptly said,"There is a sucker born every minute." I personally believe there are ten people born every minute to take advantage of that sucker.

Sales through fearmongering is a very common occurence anytime there is any type of a crisis. Remember Y2K, all the paranoia, all the rip offs out of fear.It is no different now than it was back then. I hope we all learned something going through that experience that we can apply to the present set of circumstances. (As much as a hate to admit it),I know I have been ripped off due to greed or fear, depending on how one perceives it. It was my own fault, I should have known better. I would guess that most adults probably have been taken advantage of at one time or another. Sad but true.

With all the recent events what we have to do most is stay rational. Be informed, but not petrified about what is happening. With the current anthrax scare, I feel completely safe in the midwest, especially by not living in a large metropolitan area. Anthrax is not very easy to get in the first place, unless you work in a mail room of a news company. Even then it is almost 100% treatable.

We must remember that this is as much a psychological war as it is a terrorist war. We just have to keep our cool and not do foolish things such as stock up on items (Cipro)that we will never need.

I always remember that there is no 100% safety on this earth. There are too many variables to plan contingencies for them all. I tried to do that for Y2K, but was not able to do everything that I could think of due to lack of time and mostly lack of money. Events like that have a way of not turning out as we figure they will anyway(Y2K), and all our planning can easily be for naught.

I am not saying that you should not plan for emergencies, that would be foolish in my mind. What we don't need to do is spend an inordinate amount of time worrying about what MAY happen, since we have virtually no control over it anyway.

I for one am going to live my life as close to normal as I did before 9-11. I think this is the only way I will keep my sanity. A little stocking up here and there. A little extra prayer now and then can't hurt either. If we all stick together we will come through this just fine, despite what some are saying.

Talk to you later.

-- Bob in WI (bjwick@hotmail.com), October 19, 2001.

I would like to clarify something again: skin anthrax is 100% treatable, gastrointestinal anthrax is mostly treatable, inhalation anthrax is deadly unless diagnosed very early in the disease process. I find it amazing that it is illegal to do business with overseas pharmacies. Think about it...you can get the same drug at less than half the price. Our country imports all kinds of junk for us to buy and promotes imported goods through all those nice new treaties, but when an item bites the pharmaceutical companies in the behind, oh my, now it's illegal!!!!!!!! I have been purchasing drugs online for two years and never have had a single problem. I agree from a public health standpoint that people who would take any drug out of fear and panic are misguided. On the other hand, having an antibiotic in your cupboard to take when there has been an outbreak of inhalation anthrax downwind from your farm is prudent. If an outbreak never occurs, then it can be used for urinary or skin infections quite nicely with a shelf life of two years. My bronmycin arrived Monday from Thailand and is now sitting in the bathroom cupboard where it is available to my family if the nuts play their games in Birmingham or Atlanta or Chattanooga.

-- lesley (martchas@bellsouth.net), October 19, 2001.

Yeah. Seems to me that there may be more of a control factor to this move. There flat out isn't enough cipro here to treat all people, so now you can't even buy it through the internet, but must go to a doctor, register yourself with the pharmacy, not take care of yourself, but let them do it. Grrrrrr.....

My bronmycin hasn't arrrived yet, so it's probaly sitting in customs while all those containers full of ak 47's are being handed out in downtown LA. Beerother. When will they let us take care of ourselves?

-- Doreen (bisquit@here.com), October 20, 2001.

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