518.thmThe US Food and Drug Administration warned consumers to “use extreme care” when buying any kinds of drugs over the Internet that claim to prevent, treat, diagnose or cure the H1N1 or Swine flu virus.

The FDA warning comes after the government agency purchased and analyzed several products from the Internet that claimed to be “Tamiflu.”

“One of the orders, which arrived in an unmarked envelope with a postmark from India, consisted of unlabeled, white tablets taped between two pieces of paper. When analyzed by the FDA, the tablets were found to contain talc and acetaminophen, but none of the active ingredient oseltamivir,” the FDA said in a statement. The website was gone shortly after the FDA placed the order.

At the same time, the FDA also purchased four other products that arrived with various levels of Tamiflu, but were not approved for use in the US.

“Products that are offered for sale online with claims to diagnose, prevent, mitigate, treat or cure the 2009 H1N1 influenza virus must be carefully evaluated,” said FDA Commissioner Dr. Margaret A. Hamburg. “Medicines purchased from websites operating outside the law put consumers at increased risk due to a higher potential that the products will be counterfeit, impure, contaminated, or have too little or too much of the active ingredient.”

Two prescription antiviral drugs are approved by the FDA to treat or prevent the H1N1 virus: Tamiflu and Relenza. Consumers can also visit FDA’s website for tips about how to protect themselves when buying medicines online.

About The Author

John Guilfoil is the editor-in-chief of Blast: Boston’s Online Magazine and the Blast Magazine Network. He can be reached at guilfoil.j@blastmagazine.com. Tweet @johnguilfoil.

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