Viagra maker cracks down on counterfeit Net sales

Drug giant Pfizer sues companies, launches ad campaign on how to minimize Viagra-related spam.

Pfizer, the maker of Viagra, has launched a legal battle against dozens of online pharmacies that sell counterfeit or illegal generic versions of its drug.

The company on Tuesday also announced an advertising campaign to educate consumers on how to avoid deceptive Web sites, safely purchase Viagra online, and minimize Viagra-related spam.

"We want it clearly known that Pfizer does not send or support the sending of spam, which comes from Web sites that illegally use the Viagra name to promote and market unapproved (erectile dysfunction) products that may contain ingredients that either do not provide optimal efficacy or may pose health risks," Jeff Kindler, Pfizer's general counsel, said in a statement.

The drug giant is suing five companies and individuals--Oriontech, You Save RX, CNR International, Charles William Naron and Doug Hollenbeck--alleging violation of state and federal trademark rules and unfair competition laws.

Pfizer said it also has filed legal proceedings to seize more than two dozen domain names, which allegedly are engaging in unauthorized use of the Viagra trademark.

The company is working with the Department of Justice, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the FBI and the Food and Drug Administration to prosecute counterfeiters. Pfizer said that while some Web sites sell generic Viagra, the FDA has not approved a generic version of the drug.

Consumers can search for online pharmacies that are properly licensed at the Web site of the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy, which shows whether the organization has a so-called Verified Internet Pharmacy Practice Sites Seal.

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