A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

U.S. Customs has seized 21 shipments of drugs at Erlanger port since first of the year

By Tom Latek
Kentucky Today

Since Jan. 1, U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers have seized 21 shipments of improperly imported Viagra, Cialis, and Levitra transiting through the Port of Cincinnati, which is located in Erlanger, near the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky Airport.

Officers found approximately 32,556 pills of the prescription drugs in shipments of vitamins, supplements, watches, and other medications. The shipments also contained 1,050 packets of jellies and so-called “Miracle Honey,” which is laced with sildenafil, the active ingredient in Viagra.

Seized shipments (US Customs photo)

Originating from China, India, Malaysia, or Sudan, the medications were headed to individuals in nine states, including Kentucky and Indiana.  Had they been legally sold, the pills, jellies, and honey would have been worth nearly $757,000, according to the CBP.

The Food and Drug Administration works with CBP to protect consumers from products marketed as dietary supplements that contain hidden drug ingredients. Because only 3% of online pharmacies reviewed by the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy comply with U.S. pharmacy laws and practice standards, purchasing drugs online is risky not only for the consumer’s health, but also their wallet.

“The FDA is concerned about the illegal importation of prescription medications as these drug products may pose a significant risk to patients. Like the products seized by our partners at CBP, these products are not always made under good manufacturing practice conditions,” said Assistant Commissioner for Import Operations Dan Solis.

He noted that prescription drugs should only be used under the supervision of licensed health care professional who is able to identify appropriate therapies for patients and monitor for potential side effects.

“Our strong relationship with CBP enables this kind of collaborative work and results that best apply each agency’s authority and enforcement tools and protect consumers from potentially dangerous medical products entering the U.S.”
E-commerce trade has soared during the pandemic, expanding foreign sellers’ market access to the United States. But, the CBP says, drugs made in foreign facilities may lack necessary oversight and good manufacturing practices ensuring patient safety.

Prescription drugs sold in the U.S. must conform to FDA standards, protecting consumers from dangerous irregularities in drug potency.

 “CBP will continue to investigate and take action against counterfeit and misclassified goods that post a threat to our economy and our citizens,” said Cincinnati Port Director Richard Gillespie. “We work closely with FDA and other partner government agencies to provide comprehensive border enforcement in support of national security.”

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