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FDA’s Most Wanted

You’ve most likely heard of the US FBI’s Most Wanted. In fact, most countries have their own list of criminals to raise public awareness. Now, the FDA has decided to take a similar approach to track down several elusive fugitives connected to criminal acts involving food and regulated medicines (1).

Eleven names made the list and, as you might expect, many of the suspects are involved with counterfeit pharmaceutical products. Other offences included drug diversion, writing false prescriptions, selling fake stem cell injections direct to patients and, in the only case related to food, passing off catfish as “other” fish. You can read the full list and the dark stories behind them on the FDA website.


The high value of pharmaceutical products is a strong lure to criminals and the FDA is regularly involved in criminal investigations. In August alone, the FDA published nine press releases about different criminal cases connected to medicines, with the offenses ranging from smuggling adulterated cancer drugs, distributing unapproved foreign drugs, and healthcare fraud, to a man selling prescription drugs made in his own home with ingredients purchased from China.

In a July 2014 report, Interpol explained that several of its member countries have reported increases in pharmaceutical crime in the past five years, particularly in South and Central America (2). In one South American country, illicit profits were found to be almost one-third of the profits made in the legal pharmaceutical market between 2008 and 2012.

A key trend in many countries has been the increased use of illicit online pharmacies, operated by both informal networks and organized criminal groups. Increasingly, law-enforcement agencies are also dealing with criminal organizations that use sophisticated international networks, which are difficult to target. Interpol added that corruption within the ostensibly legal pharmaceutical industry and a lack of enforcement units (as well as legislative challenges in some countries) is making it difficult to tackle the problem.

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  1. Office of Criminal Investigations (OCI) Most Wanted Fugitives,
  2. Interpol, Pharmaceutical Crime and Organized Criminal Groups, July, 2014
About the Author
Stephanie Vine

Making great scientific magazines isn’t just about delivering knowledge and high quality content; it’s also about packaging these in the right words to ensure that someone is truly inspired by a topic. My passion is ensuring that our authors’ expertise is presented as a seamless and enjoyable reading experience, whether in print, in digital or on social media. I’ve spent fourteen years writing and editing features for scientific and manufacturing publications, and in making this content engaging and accessible without sacrificing its scientific integrity. There is nothing better than a magazine with great content that feels great to read.

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