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The American opioid crisis is in full swing. On average, there are 115 opioid overdoses in America each day, and that number is rising. In an effort to combat illegal opioid sales, the Federal Drug Administration has directed four online networks, amounting to 21 websites, to stop selling illegal, and "potentially dangerous, unapproved, and misbranded" opioids.
These networks include CoinRX, MedInc.biz, PharmacyAffiliates.org and PharmaMedics. The FDA has been on a roll this summer, issuing 13 warning letters to more than 70 websites, in an effort to shut down online opioid drug dealing. And they claim more letters will be sent out soon.
Tramadol, in Opioid Clothing
The FDA is not only concerned about the legality of these drug sales, but also the safety of the users. Though marketed as traditional opioids, many of these drugs are actually counterfeit, contaminated, expired, or mislabled. And the mislabeling is intentional. Some of the drugs sold as opioids are in fact pressed fentanyl and tramadol, a drug with limited FDA approval. According to the FDA, tramadol has very serious side effects, including "a high risk of addiction, abuse, misuse, life-threatening breathing problems, and withdrawal symptoms in newborn babies." When taken with other depressants, such as alcohol, tramadol's use may result in coma or death.
The Unintended Consequence of Opioid's Drug Re-Classification
Using legal means, opioids are now much more difficult to procure. The FDA is cracking down on doctors who are prescribing them unnecessarily. In recent years, the FDA has been working with physicians to minimize the prescription of opioids, which have a high rate of addiction, unbeknownst to many patients.
As a further method of crackdown, two years ago, the FDA "rescheduled" opioid's drug classification, putting tighter restrictions on legal prescriptions. As a results, some doctors have stopped prescribing them to patients even when they believe it is necessary, in order to safeguard themselves from prosecution. In response, their patients are forced to find opioids on the dark web, turning to heroin and fentanyl, sometimes unknowingly.
The FDA has given these four companies 10 working days to respond to the demands in the warning letters. If they fail to comply, the companies will face legal enforcement action.