International Operation Combats Online Supply of Counterfeit and Illegal Medicines

By Interpol, PRNE
Wednesday, November 18, 2009

LYON, France, November 20 - In response to an ever-increasing number of websites supplying dangerous
and illegal medicines, Operation Pangea II, involving 24 countries, was
coordinated by INTERPOL and the World Health Organization's International
Medical Products Anti-Counterfeiting Taskforce (IMPACT) to highlight the
dangers of buying medicines online.

The week long global initiative resulted in a series of arrests and the
seizure of thousands of potentially harmful medical products.

"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.

Medicine regulators, police and customs officials around the world worked
closely together during the crackdown from 16-20 November, 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.

Twenty-two individuals are currently under investigation for a range of
crimes including illegally selling and supplying unlicensed or
prescription-only medicines.

"As the very positive results of this global effort are made public,
INTERPOL and its member countries will prove again that the Internet is not
an anonymous safe haven for those who use it for criminal purposes. We hope
that by raising public awareness about the dangers of illegal internet
pharmacies, consumers will exercise greater care when purchasing medicines on
the Internet," added Secretary General Noble.

"Our thanks go to the police, customs and regulatory officials in the 24
participating countries as well as to our partner international organizations
such as the World Health Organization's IMPACT, the World Customs
Organization and Universal Postal Union whose tireless efforts and dedication
have made Operation Pangea II such a success," Noble concluded.

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.

Secretariat general — 200, quai Charles de Gaulle 69006 LYON, France

INTERPOL, +33-(0)-4-72-44-76-01

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