In response to the possible threat of an avian flu pandemic, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has announced the formation of a Rapid Response Team to ensure that an adequate supply of anti-influenza drugs, such as Tamiflu, are available for Americans.
In partnership with the Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Institutes of Health and Industry, the Rapid Response Team will work to ensure that every necessary measure is taken to provide an adequate and timely supply of avian flu treatments.
They will address roadblocks to increased manufacturing of products that have already been proven effective against avian flu, they will support clinical studies to test new potential treatments for avian influenza, and they will facilitate the development and availability of safe and effective pandemic vaccines.
The FDA is also taking steps to counter the sale of counterfeit or fraudulent avian flu treatments. They are working with individuals in the U.S. drug distribution system to strengthen the safety and security of the domestic drug supply by:
· Actively monitoring internet sites and partnering with internet service providers to identify and stop fraudulent activity.
· Aggressively seeking out and prosecuting those who seek to prey on innocent people in a time of crisis.
· Encouraging pharmaceutical manufacturers to take advantage of new technologies that provide protective packaging and other features to ensure that products are both authentic and tamperproof.
The FDA Counterfeit Alert Network is ready to help disseminate information in the event of a counterfeit incident. To minimize the risk of counterfeit or fraudulent flu treatments, the FDA recommends the following:
· Consumers should buy medicines only from U.S. state-licensed pharmacies.
· When buying medicines over the Internet, consumers should look for the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy VIPPS seal. This seal tells consumers that the web site has been certified and it is a legitimate pharmacy.
· Only use medicine that had been prescribed for you by your doctor and do not rely on websites that will provide you with a prescription for medicines without a true doctor-patient relationship.