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The Latest on Internet Pharmacies, Supplements, Designer Drugs,
and Other High-Risk Merchants

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Gargle Medication Highlights Problematic “Flea Market” Websites in Japan

Although there is still no product proven to cure or prevent COVID-19, misinformation abounds, both in the US and abroad. In Japan, the governor of Osaka publicly claimed that gargle medicine containing the antiseptic povidone-iodine can fight coronavirus. Within days, these products all but disappeared from drugstore shelves in Japan. Then, gargle medication started to…

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Keep an Eye Out for Illicit Lash Serums

In recent years, several regulatory agencies, including the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA), have released warning letters to companies that offer lash serums containing isopropyl cloprostenate, an analog of prostaglandins such as bimatoprost, which is a prescription-only active pharmaceutical ingredient in the US. Although this synthetic variation is in the same class of…

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While Many Industries Are Suffering, 2020 May Be the Year of the Supplement

The supplement industry grew by $345 million in 2019, which added to steady growth for the $32 billion industry. But that’s small potatoes compared to the first few months of 2020, in which supplement sales surged a whopping $586 million by mid-May alone, according to healthcare executive Kristin Hornberger of IRI Worldwide in a recent…

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Bogus Cures and Unapproved Treatments for COVID-19 Flood the Internet

With the COVID-19 pandemic sweeping across the globe, the payments and e-commerce landscapes are especially vulnerable right now to scammers preying on consumers with fake cures, unapproved treatments, and other unconventional products and services to treat the new coronavirus. These scams are not only detrimental to public health but also pose serious risks of chargebacks…

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Price Gouging from Coronavirus Opportunists Poses Credit and Regulatory Risk

As the pandemic caused by the novel coronavirus spreads, opportunistic scammers have begun taking advantage of panicked consumers through price gouging on basic healthcare products, such as hand sanitizer, face masks, and toilet paper. Many online merchants are now offering these products at drastic markups, ranging from three small bottles of hand sanitizer for $60…

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As Coronavirus Spreads, So Do Fake, Unapproved, and Ineffective Test Kits

LegitScript has been proactively monitoring the online space in response to the outbreak of the virus SARS-CoV-2, which causes COVID-19, and has identified an increasing trend in the marketing of coronavirus-related products that present an elevated risk to consumers, payment service providers, and e-commerce platforms. In particular, the severe shortage of diagnostic kits to test…

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New Warning Letters Signal Forceful Approach to Containing Coronavirus Treatment Claims

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced Monday seven warning letters they issued jointly to business owners making potentially problematic claims that their products can treat or prevent the new coronavirus. These letters appear to reflect aggressive action by the federal agencies to stop businesses capitalizing on COVID-19 fears…

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North Carolina Man Receives Maximum Sentence for Selling Dangerous Chemical for Weight Loss

The US Department of Justice announced recently that North Carolina resident Barry Clint Wright was sentenced to seven years in federal prison for his role in the online sale of 2,4-Dinitrophenol (DNP), a substance abused by bodybuilders and other people for weight-loss purposes. Wright, 38, received the maximum statutory sentence for introducing an unapproved drug…

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What’s Fishy About Merchants Selling Fish Antibiotics?

In an attempt to source cheaper healthcare alternatives, some consumers have turned to risky behaviors, including medicating themselves with animal drugs. One type of product sold online that has high risk for this kind of misuse is fish antibiotics. Given that fish and humans share many of the same medicines (e.g., amoxicillin, penicillin, tetracycline, and…

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Etizolam Use Surges as Unapproved Xanax Alternative

Etizolam, also known as thienodiazepine, is related to a class of substances known as benzodiazepines. Typically sold in a powder or tablet form, etizolam has gained prominence in the illicit drug market in recent years due to its similarity to other popular benzodiazepines, or “benzos,” such as Xanax and Valium. Etizolam was originally developed for…

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