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2/5/2004

Rogue Web Site Sells Fake Contraceptive

Kate Traynor

An Internet pharmacy based in India has been selling a counterfeit version of Ortho-McNeil Pharmaceutical Inc.'s Ortho Evra transdermal contraceptive patch, according to announcements from the company and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

The counterfeit patches contain no active ingredient and will not prevent pregnancy, according to FDA. The regulatory agency stated yesterday that all products obtained through New Delhi-based American Style Products' now-defunct Web site, www.rxpharmacy.ws, are suspect and should not be considered safe or effective. FDA stated that it worked with the rogue company's U.S.-based Internet service provider to shut down the Web site.

Images of the genuine and counterfeit versions of Ortho Evra are available at FDA's Web site. The genuine product is described as a beige film, 1.75 square inches in surface area, packaged in a sealed, opaque white pouch that is labeled on one side. The lot number and expiration date are printed on both sides of the white pouch, and the product name and lot number are imprinted on the patch itself.

The counterfeit patches are brown, 1.5 square inches in surface area, and made of a woven material with a pattern of five holes on the outer side of the patch. A 0.75-inch orange gauze-like square under the patch's plastic liner is visible from the back side of the patch. According to FDA, the counterfeit product is packaged in "simple plastic zip-lock bags without identifying materials."

FDA advised consumers who have purchased counterfeit patches or other products from American Style Products' Web site to seek advice from their health care providers.

Ortho-McNeil and FDA stated that consumers who wish to purchase prescription products over the Internet should always use Web sites that have been certified through the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy's Verified Internet Pharmacy Practice Sites, or VIPPS, program.