ST. LOUIS– On January 29 and January 30 U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers in St. Louis seized three shipments that contained 2,350 Sildenafil Citrate and Tadalafil tablets, both active ingredients in Viagra and Cialis.
Officers found the illegally imported medications while inspecting the shipments all labeled as Health Supplements, a common method that is used to avoid detection. All three shipments were arriving from Singapore and were destined for residence in Pacific, Wentzville, and Arnold, Missouri. These medications are prescription drugs and are not permitted for importation without proper documentation. Had they been legally sold; the pills would have had an estimated domestic value of $55,000.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulates pharmaceuticals and products marketed as dietary supplements that contain an active pharmaceutical ingredient. Because only three percent of online pharmacies reviewed by the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy are in compliance with U.S. pharmacy laws and practice standards, purchasing controlled substances through online vendors is risky not only for the consumer’s health, but also their wallet.
“Our highly-skilled officers continue to focus on our mission to protect our country and its citizens,” said LaFonda D. Sutton-Burke, Director, Field Operations-Chicago. “CBP works closely with FDA and other partner agencies to effect this mission and make sure controlled substances with unknown additives or inferior standards do not make their way into American households.”
Medications purchased from online sources can be improperly produced without pharmacological specifications and safeguards that ensure the protection of human health. Prescription medications manufactured in non-regulated foreign companies often contain dangerous contaminants or ineffective compounds, and though their packaging and labelling can be like genuine products, inconsistent ingredients and sub-par quality controls can endanger the consumer.
E-commerce has expanded foreign sellers’ market access to the United States. However, these sellers may not have all pertinent information to comply with U.S. admissibility law. Additionally, transnational criminal organizations often ship illicit goods to the United States via small packages because of a perceived lower interdiction risk and less severe consequences if the package is interdicted. As buying habits change and more products are purchased online, it is critical for consumers to be aware of the dangers and complications involved in ordering products such as medication through online sellers.
“Consumers do not realize the risk they are taking when using prescription drugs from other countries,” said St. Louis’ Port Director. “These non-regulated drugs could cause health concerns or even death."
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommends that consumers talk to their health care professional about their condition and consider buying prescription medications from state-licensed pharmacies in the U.S.
CBP's border security mission is led at 328 ports of entry by CBP officers from the Office of Field Operations. Please visit CBP Ports of Entry to learn more about how CBP’s Office of Field Operations secures our nation’s borders. Learn more about CBP at www.CBP.gov.