Operation Pangea seizes over three million medicines and devices
As part of Operation Pangea, over 3 million illegally traded medicines and medical devices have been seized as part of a global crackdown. The products were valued at over £9 million. Operation Pangea was originally instigated by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), it is also coordinated by INTERPOL. Operation Pangea is a well-established international effort to disrupt the online sale of counterfeit and illicit health products. Just as importantly, Pangea works to raise awareness of the risks associated with buying medicines from unregulated websites.
This year’s operation ran from 18 to 25 May and involved over 100 countries joining forces to seize non-compliant medical products and remove thousands of illegally operating websites and URLs offering medicines and devices. In the UK, 113,000 illegally operating websites were also removed, or had their URLs blocked. 8 search warrants were executed, with 7 criminals arrested. Seven people have been arrested after 90,000 prescription tablets were seized in Northern Ireland as part of the operation also.
Analysis of the results of Pangea over the past decade reveals that at least 11% of medical products sold online are counterfeit and all regions of the world are affected. The highest number of seizures under Pangea were of fake erectile dysfunction medicines. Other commonly faked products include anti-depressants, anabolic steroids and medicines used to treat diabetes or cancer.
“Criminals selling medicines and devices illegally are not only breaking the law but have no regard for your health. Taking fake or unlicensed medicines or using a non-compliant medical device could put your health and safety in danger”, said Andy Morling, Head of Enforcement at the MHRA. The MHRA also runs a #FakeMeds campaign, the objective of which is to encourage people in the UK who choose to buy medication online to take steps to make sure they are purchasing from safe and legitimate sources.