FDA seeks industry input on Internet monitoring

FDA building signThe US FDA wants to hear from companies that may help it tackle illegal products such as counterfeit medicines on the Internet.

The request for information (FDA-RFI-1113738) is not being put out as a solicitation for business, but a bid by the agency to "understand the industry best practices and technical solutions" for Internet monitoring.

The aim of the exercise is to find ways to identify and map illegal online pharmacy networks, as well as online sources for other regulated materials such as active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs), medical devices, tobacco products, foods and dietary supplements, cosmetics and veterinary medicines.

The draft RFI features a number of questions about the software used by companies, technical capabilities with open-source data collection, security procedures and ability to avoid information conflicts, amongst other factors.

It also asks about respondents' capacity to carry out straw purchases, with any contractor expected to carry out a maximum of 500 'straw' purchases a year from websites using "zero balance" credit cards which allow the sale to go through but later declined. This will help identify the "Internet payment service provider, merchant processor and/or involved financial institution" involved in the transaction, says the FDA's RFI.

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