28 October 2016Trademarks

US government warns against fake contact lenses before Halloween

Three US government authorities have warned consumers against buying counterfeit contact lenses that are being sold online and in shops in the days before Halloween.

Halloween, on October 31, often sees people dressing up in scary costumes and using decorative contact lenses to look frightening.

However, the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and US Customs and Border Protection issued a consumer warning on October 24.

They warned consumers against buying dangerous counterfeit contact lenses and unapproved decorative contact lenses illegally sold online and in shops.

The organisations have seized 100,000 pairs of fake and unapproved contact lenses. The seizures were co-ordinated by the ICE National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center and were conducted under the FDA-led initiative called “Operation Double Vision”.

The operation is part of an “ongoing effort” to target the illicit importation and distribution of fake and unapproved contact lenses that present a significant health and safety hazard to the public.

Under the investigations, the organisations found that the fake contact lenses have “high levels of bacteria” that could cause “significant health problems”.

According to ICE, 40 million US citizens wear contact lenses, which the FDA regulates as medical devices under federal law.

Peter Edge, executive associate director of ICE Homeland Security Investigations, said: “Criminal elements will capitalise on the excitement of the holiday season by selling substandard, dangerous counterfeit and illegal items with no regard for the health and safety of consumers.

“Our agents are committed to collaborating with external agencies to develop effective operations and conduct aggressive investigations into the distribution of fake goods that threaten the US public with lengthy medical procedures and strenuous rehabilitation programmes,” he added.

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