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CBP and FDA Work Together to Seize Counterfeit and Tainted Products

Release Date: 
February 9, 2011

Chicago - U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) work closely to prevent the importation of harmful counterfeit prescription drugs and tainted products marketed as dietary supplements.

CBP Officers examining a shipment of tainted male enhancement products at the Chicago International Mail Facility.

Photo Credit:Customs and Border Protection

In recent years, counterfeiters have become more sophisticated in deceiving consumers. It can be difficult, if not impossible, to tell the real product from an imposter without sophisticated equipment. Counterfeit drugs may look exactly like real FDA-approved medicines, but their quality and safety are unknown. For example, counterfeit products could contain the wrong ingredients and/or varying amounts of the supposed active ingredient.

"CBP officers can see parcels containing these suspect shipments in quantities of anywhere from 8 to 8000 tables," said David Murphy, CBP Director of Field Operations in Chicago. "CBP remains vigilant, on-guard and in-sync with our federal partner, the FDA, to protect American consumers from these potentially harmful products. Our collaboration with FDA ensures the continued success of the missions of both agencies."

In addition to counterfeit prescription drug products, CBP and FDA have seen an increase in tainted male sexual enhancement products being purchased on-line and imported into the United States. Although these types of products are being marketed as "all natural" or "100% herbal," these products often contain undeclared pharmaceuticals such as sildenafil, vardenafil and tadalafil (the active ingredients in Viagra, Cialis and Levitra). Use of these tainted male enhancement products pose a threat to consumers because the manufacturing of most of these products is entirely unknown. In addition, these products may interact with nitrates found in some prescription drugs (such as Nitroglycerin) and may lower blood pressure to dangerous levels.

"FDA has identified an emerging trend where products sold directly to consumers, frequently represented as dietary supplements or 'all natural,' contain active ingredients which are not on the label that could be harmful," said Scott MacIntire, FDA Chicago District Director. "Safety is our number one priority. Consumers may unknowingly take products laced with varying quantities of the active ingredients found in approved prescription drugs, controlled substances, and or other active pharmaceutical ingredients."

Please review the following safety tips when considering purchasing medication on-line or using any "herbal" or "natural" products:

  • Consult with your doctor prior to taking any medication; self-diagnosis places the purchaser at risk of drug interactions, incorrect dosage and allergic reactions.
  • Fill your prescriptions at your local pharmacy or through a reputable on-line retailer.
  • Beware of websites that claim to sell prescription drugs without a prescription - this is against the law!
  • Don't be misled by claims of "all natural" ingredients. "Herbal" sexual enhancement products promising rapid effects such as working in minutes or hours, or long-lasting effects such as 24 hours to 72 hours are likely tainted with prescription drugs.

Customs and Border Protection officers are stationed at international mail facilities throughout the United States. CBP processes, examines and releases all parcels arriving from a foreign point of origin. All shipments are processed through a radiation portal to ensure that radioactive materials do not enter this country. Demonstrating CBP's commitment to protecting our nation at all levels.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection is the unified border agency within the Department of Homeland Security charged with the management, control and protection of U.S. borders at and between official ports of entry. CBP is charged with keeping terrorists and terrorist weapons out of the country while enforcing hundreds of U.S. laws.

Last modified: 
February 9, 2017