In the past week, more than 165 regulatory authorities from 81 countries took part in "Operation PANGEA IV", a global action against online trading of counterfeit and illegal drugs.
The operation sets out to raise awareness about the risks associated with buying medicines on the internet and through joint efforts to bring these offences to justice.
Operation Pangea IV, running for the fourth year in a row, was undertaken in support of the International Medical Products Anti-Counterfeiting Taskforce (IMPACT), coordinated by INTERPOL, the World Customs Organization (WCO), the Permanent Forum of International Pharmaceutical crime (PFIPC), the Heads of Medicines Agencies Working Group of Enforcement Officers (HMA WGEO), the pharmaceutical industry and the electronic payments industry.
Actions in Denmark
In Denmark, the operation was coordinated by the Danish Medicines Agency and carried out in close cooperation with SKAT (the Danish tax and customs authorities) and the police and was assisted by the Danish Association of the Pharmaceutical Industry. The joint actions focused on:
- Potency products sold illegally on the internet
- Surveillance of the illicit online market involving about 120 specific, illegal potency products to strike down on and bring offenders in Denmark to justice and to assign offences committed in other countries to the authority of the country concerned and to INTERPOL
- Control of illegally imported medicines to Denmark with assistance from SKAT
- Control of illegally imported potency products using sniffer dogs made available by the pharmaceutical company, Pfizer, and trained to scent sildenafil, which is the active substance in Viagra.
Photo: Sniffer dog in action
- Examination of a number of websites selling potency products
- Reporting to INTERPOL of 31 websites selling medicines illegally
- Findings of an additional six, potentially illegal, potency products, which will be examined further
- 282 retained parcels containing medicines
- Inspections by sniffer dogs of approx. 550 parcels.
Overall operation results
- The shutting down of more than 13,000 illegal websites
- About 900 inspections carried out by the police, customs authorities or post offices
- Inspections of more than 45,000 parcels
- About 7,900 parcels have been retained, in total representing more than 2.4 million units of medicines (tablets, capsules, etc.)
- 55 persons have been arrested, and 36 search warrants have been issued
- 17 awareness-raising campaigns.
Read more about the results via this link to INTERPOL's press release.
Once again, the operation has shown that striking down efficiently on illicit online supply of medicines requires collective efforts across regulatory authorities and frontiers.
Consumers should be cautious
Consumers should exercise extreme caution when they buy medicines online and should always check that the companies they buy products from have the required authorisations. Even if a website looks reliable, there is no guarantee that the medicines sold are authentic or safe.
During the week of action from 20-27 September 2011, the police, customs authorities and national drug regulatory authorities with support from internet service providers, payment system providers and delivery services have worked closely together.
The action focused on the three main components abused in the illegal online sale: internet service providers, payment system providers and delivery services.
Photo: Sniffer dog in action