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CanadaDrugs.com to close next week

After years of legal wrangling over sales of counterfeit medicines, CanadaDrugs.com will go offline next week according to the terms of a plea deal with the US Department of Justice.

The company has been working hard to transition customers to an online pharmacy called Drugmart.com, however, and says that offering the CanadaDrugs.com website was a ‘bargaining chip’ in the plea deal to avoid further prosecution.

In April, CanadaDrugs.com was ordered to pay a $34m fine for illegal imports of medicines into the US, whilst its founder Kris Thorkelson received a $250,000 fine and was sentenced to five years’ probation with six months’ house arrest. Its primary site will close on July 13.

Organizations such as the Partnership for Safe Medicines (PSM) criticised the penalties as being overly light, given that CanadaDrugs.com admitted introducing misbranded drugs into interstate commerce, while two of its subsidiaries pleaded guilty to selling counterfeit drugs.

The CanadaDrugs.com case is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to illegal sales by rogue online pharmacies, according to the US National Association of Boards of Pharmacy, which examined more than 11,000 online pharmacies at the end of 2016 and found that 96 per cent were operating illegally. More than half of the sites were deemed to be offering foreign and unapproved drugs that may have been substandard or counterfeit.

The NABP also looked specifically at online sales of opioid analgesics from 100 dubious websites earlier this year, and found that all were operating illegally, with more than half (54 per cent) selling controlled substances – a big increase on prior years – and 40 per cent selling drugs without a prescription that are known to have been linked to adulteration with fentanyl.


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