PHARMACY

Warning issued to consumers over extortionists posing as FDA agents, federal officials

BY Alaric DeArment

SILVER SPRING, Md. — International criminals are posing as Food and Drug Administration special agents and other law enforcement officers in order to extort money from consumers, the FDA warned Friday.

The FDA said the criminals will call the victims, who often previously purchased drugs through “telepharmacies” or over the Internet, and tell them that purchasing drugs online or over the telephone is illegal. They then attempt to extort “fines” ranging from $100 to $250,000 and instruct victims to transfer the money to a designated location, usually in the Dominican Republic, threatening the victims with property searches, arrests, deportations or physical harm if they fail to comply.

“Impersonating an FDA official is a violation of federal law,” FDA associate commissioner for regulatory affairs Dara Corrigan said. “FDA special agents and other law enforcement officials are not authorized to impose or collect criminal fines. Only a court can take such action.”

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FDA on lookout for tobacco violations in Mississippi

BY Alaric DeArment

SILVER SPRING, Md. — Nearly 500 retailers in Mississippi had to submit to Food and Drug Administration inspections concerning alleged tobacco sales to minors, the FDA said Friday.

The FDA said it visited 493 retailers and issued 25 warning letters over the last three months using state inspectors the agency had commissioned. Mississippi was the first state to participate in the FDA’s State Enforcement Program, which started in the summer and is designed to enforce provisions of the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act of 2009 and implement regulations.

“Retailers play a role in protecting our kids from becoming the next generation of Americans to die prematurely from tobacco-related disease,” FDA Center for Tobacco Products director Lawrence Deyton said. “We are providing retail establishments with the information needed to comply with the law.”

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State officials in Colorado promote immunization in campaign

BY Alaric DeArment

DENVER — State health authorities in Colorado are promoting immunization to parents through a broad media campaign.

The Colorado Department of Public Health and the Vaccine Advisory Committee of Colorado, a coalition of vaccination research and policy leaders, announced Thursday the “Immunize for Good” program, which they described as a way to communicate to parents vaccinating their children that they’re making the right decision and preventing serious illnesses.

The campaign includes a website, ImmunizeForGood.com, where parents can upload video and written testimonials, as well as billboards and radio announcements. It also includes online videos on YouTube, such as “The Bathroom Tango,” a humorous video in which a mother tries to protect her daughter from germs in a public restroom.

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