Lubbock authorities seize drugs from foreign Internet pharmacies - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

3/17/09

Lubbock authorities seize drugs from foreign Internet pharmacies

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LUBBOCK, TX (KCBD) - A potentially deadly diet supplement arrives on the South Plains via the U.S. Postal Service.  

Investigators say the most recent shipment arrived Monday. Authorities uncovered more than 1,800 diet pills shipped to Lubbock County from a foreign Internet pharmacy.

The danger is that some of these pills have more than twice the FDA limit of a controlled substance called sibutramine. Sibutramine is marketed in the U.S. under the name Meridia, but you can only get it with a prescription, and even then with only up to 15 to 20 milligrams of sibutramine.  Some pills found by authorities contained 55 milligrams of the drug.

They seized pills are called Meizitang, and doctors tell NewsChannel 11 they can cause heart attacks and other serious problems. That's why authorities have cracked down.  "I think a lot of people, they're looking for that magic pill," Texas Department of Public Safety, Narcotics Service Captain Joe Longway said. 

Longway says Meizitang is not it the magic pill. For the past year he's worked with U.S. Immigration and Customs Agents along with U.S. Postal Inspectors to take the potentially deadly diet supplements out of distribution.  "We've had two packages we've intercepted to this point. The first one was 1,800 dosage units, that was in Hale County, and then yesterday we intercepted another package that was 1,830," Longway said. 

Longway tells NewsChannel 11 the second shipment arrived in Lubbock County. He says both buyers were women. They didn't know each other, and though the pills came from the same company, he says each one bought their supply from a different web site. "In both cases, they were buying them whole sale, and then they were turning around and selling them retail for roughly about $1.00 to $1.25 a tablet," Longway said. 

Longway estimates the buyers made a profit of about $1,600 per case. Right now, neither buyer has been charged with a crime. "Just because you can get on the Internet and purchase this stuff, doesn't mean it's legal," Longway said. 

Doctors say it doesn't mean it's safe either. "This is not a drug that should be used trivially. This drug should be used carefully and in very close consideration with other classes of drugs that a patient might be on," Doctor K. Mike Rice said.

Investigators tell us they've received information that more pills could be headed to the Hub City. They say the pills could also be sold in local flea markets and that's why they're warning folks seek a doctor and prescription before taking sibutramine.

Authorities tell us the buyers could face first degree felony charges. They'll turn both cases over to the district attorneys in Lubbock and Hale Counties.

Consumer Product Safety Commission
Looking for the latest news on consumer recalls check out the Consumer Product Safety Commission's web site.

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