istock-92036866
26 October 2018Americas

Interpol seizes 500 tonnes of illicit pharmaceuticals

More than 500 tonnes of illicit pharmaceuticals have been seized worldwide as part of a global operation led by Interpol, as announced on Tuesday.

Interpol’s annual Operation Pangea, now in its eleventh year, brings international regulatory and law enforcement agencies together to combat the sale and distribution of illegal counterfeit medical products sold online.

During a one-week period (October 9 to 16), police, customs and health regulatory authorities from 116 countries targeted the illicit online sale of medicines and medical products, resulting in 859 arrests and the seizure of $14 million worth of potentially dangerous pharmaceuticals.

A total of 3,671 web pages were closed down, from websites to social media sites, and more than 110,000 medical devices including syringes and surgical instruments were seized.

Jürgen Stock, general secretary of Interpol, said: “Criminals are now shipping packages containing smaller numbers of pills and tablets to try and avoid the more stringent checks which have become routine in many countries as a result of the Pangea operations.

“However, this year’s results again show the successes achieved globally in stopping potentially lethal products from reaching unsuspecting customers.”

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which participates in the operation, described it as a “multi-pronged enforcement strategy” aimed at identifying the makers and distributers of illegal prescription drugs and removing the products and their sources from the supply chain.

Last week in the US, Operation Pangea targeted 465 websites that sell illegal and potentially dangerous drugs which claim to treat cancer and HIV, among other diseases. The FDA said that it sent warning letters to the seven different networks which operate the websites.

In addition, more than 450 domain names were brought to the attention of search engine providers and domain name registries and registrars. They include http://www.nextdaypills.com,  http://www.top-meds-discounts.com, and  http://www.bestgenericstore.com.

The websites reportedly market and distribute unapproved versions of opiate, oncology, and antiviral prescription drugs to US consumers.

As part of the operation, the FDA’s office of criminal investigations initiated several criminal investigations involving illegal online pharmacies.

One investigation resulted in the arrest and indictment of a San Diego resident known as “The Drug Llama” on a dark net marketplace. The suspect allegedly shipped more than 50,000 tablets containing fentanyl (an opiate) throughout the US.

In addition, the FDA said that it has been investigating payment processes related to the illegal online sale of drugs. So far, the investigation has led to a federal indictment related to laundering for online pharmacies.

Scott Gottlieb, commissioner of the FDA, said: “The illegal online pharmacies that we’re taking action against are often run by sophisticated criminal networks that knowingly and unlawfully distribute illicit drugs, including potentially counterfeit medicines and controlled substances both on the surface and dark web.”

Did you enjoy reading this story?  Sign up to our free daily newsletters and get stories sent like this straight to your inbox.

Already registered?

Login to your account

To request a FREE 2-week trial subscription, please signup.
NOTE - this can take up to 48hrs to be approved.

Two Weeks Free Trial

For multi-user price options, or to check if your company has an existing subscription that we can add you to for FREE, please email Adrian Tapping at atapping@newtonmedia.co.uk


More on this story

article
31 October 2018   The Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency has seized more than £2 million ($2.6 million) worth of counterfeit medication in the UK, according to the a statement made by the UK government.
Big Pharma
24 March 2020   Counterfeit face masks and unauthorised antiviral medication have been seized under Interpol’s annual Operation Pangea, as criminals seek to take advantage of the COVID-19 pandemic by exploiting demand.

More on this story

Big Pharma
24 March 2020   Counterfeit face masks and unauthorised antiviral medication have been seized under Interpol’s annual Operation Pangea, as criminals seek to take advantage of the COVID-19 pandemic by exploiting demand.
article
31 October 2018   The Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency has seized more than £2 million ($2.6 million) worth of counterfeit medication in the UK, according to the a statement made by the UK government.

More on this story

Big Pharma
24 March 2020   Counterfeit face masks and unauthorised antiviral medication have been seized under Interpol’s annual Operation Pangea, as criminals seek to take advantage of the COVID-19 pandemic by exploiting demand.
article
31 October 2018   The Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency has seized more than £2 million ($2.6 million) worth of counterfeit medication in the UK, according to the a statement made by the UK government.