This week, Health Canada, the Canadian analogue to the US Food and Drug Administration, issued a warning to consumers about ordering drugs from 3 Internet pharmacies identified as:
Health Canada is concerned that some drugs sold by these websites may be counterfeit and as such, potentially harmful to consumer health. In the advisory, Health Canada provides advice and lists actions that consumers may take if they have purchased drugs from these websites.
Why did Health Canada consider these three Internet pharmacies significant enough to warrant public identification as suppliers of potentially harmful drugs? According to the Health Canada advisory, these Internet pharmacies are not operated by a licensed pharmacist and they dispense versions of prescription drugs that are not approved for sale in Canada. This is not the way a Internet pharmacy committed to the health of their customers should be operated.
Unfortunately, there are thousands of Internet pharmacies that operate without benefit of a licensed pharmacist and which dispense potentially harmful products to consumers. Many of these websites are identified and monitored by LegitScript.
LegitScript decided to take a closer look at the three websites identified in the Health Canada advisory. What we found was an Internet marketing operation that creates and discards pharmacy websites as needed for their purposes along with auto, payday and mortgage loan websites. This marketing group uses several different business identities and physical addresses in Canada, Panama, the UK and US, but is generally identified as Apex Group Inc. Where and how Apex Group Inc decides to host their pharmacy websites appears designed to best serve the business interests of the marketing group, instead of the health service needs and rights of the consumer. For example, an affiliated Internet pharmacy that purports to serve UK consumers is hosted in the US on an IP address assigned to the US mortgage lender Fannie Mae. In addition to potential exposure to harmful health consequences from counterfeit products as identified by Health Canada, consumers who use these Internet pharmacy websites may be exposed to unwanted marketing for auto, payday, or mortgage loans.
Below is a list of Apex Group Inc websites affiliated with the Internet pharmacies identified in the Health Canada advisory: