Wednesday, November 25, 2009

INTERPOL and World Health Organization: International Operation Combats Online Supply of Counterfeit and Illegal Medicines

In a related story to a previous blog, INTERPOL and the World Health Organization's International Medical Products Anti-Counterfeiting Taskforce (IMPACT) coordinated a 24 country wide operation named Operation Pangea II in response to an ever-increasing number of websites supplying dangerous and illegal medicines and the dangers of buying medicines online.

"Our primary goal in Operation Pangea II is to protect the public by removing counterfeit and illicit medicines from the market, by shutting down illegal sales on the web, and by prosecuting those potentially putting lives of innocent consumers at risk," said INTERPOL Secretary General Ronald K. Noble.

Medicine regulators, police and customs officials around the world worked closely together during the crackdown from November 16th though the 20th, focusing on the three principal components used by illegal websites to conduct trade – the Internet Service Provider (ISP), payment systems and the delivery services.

During the operation, Internet monitoring revealed 751 websites engaged in illegal activity, including offering controlled or prescription only drugs, 72 of which have now been taken down. In addition, more than 16,000 packages were inspected by regulators and customs, 995 packages were seized and nearly 167,000 illicit and counterfeit pills - including antibiotics, steroids and slimming pills, confiscated.

The operation received significant support from the Permanent Forum on International Pharmaceutical Crime (PFIPC) the World Customs Organization, the UK's Medicines and Health Care products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and Health Canada.

Countries involved in Operation Pangea II were - Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Germany, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Liechtenstein, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, Singapore, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Thailand, UK and the USA.

To read more about this international operation, visit: blog.taragana.com.