More than 3million drugs and medical devices worth over £ 9million have been seized by UK agents in a global operation to tackle the illegal online sale of medicines and drugs. medical devices. In the UK, 113,000 illegally operated websites have also been removed or their URLs blocked. 8 search warrants were executed and 7 criminals arrested.
During a week of action coordinated by Interpol, this year’s “Operation Pangea” took place May 18-25 and saw more than 100 countries join forces to seize non-compliant medical products and also to identify and remove thousands of websites and URLs offering drugs. and devices. The operation also involved coordinating the arrests of several suspected organized criminals.
Among the drugs seized were antidepressants, erectile dysfunction tablets, pain relievers, anabolic steroids and slimming pills.
Andy Morling, MHRA Enforcement Manager, said:
Criminals who illegally sell drugs and devices not only break the law, but have no regard for your health. Taking counterfeit or unauthorized medicines or using an improper medical device can endanger your health and safety and can lead to serious health problems.
Operation Pangea is a striking example of what can be achieved through a partnership combating this type of crime. We will continue to work closely with our international partners and the UK Border Force to prevent the entry of unauthorized drugs into the UK, to identify illegally operated websites and to bring criminals behind them to justice.
The MHRA will follow the week of action with a detailed analysis of the global results to create a better understanding of current and emerging threats. This work includes identifying hotspot exporting countries, preferred high-risk drugs traded on the black market, and the ever-changing business models of criminals around the world seeking to take advantage of the public.
The MHRA’s #FakeMeds campaign aims to encourage people in the UK who choose to buy drugs online to take steps to ensure that they are buying from safe and legitimate sources. The campaign also highlights the dangers of fake drugs sold online and the negative health effects that taking them can have. It also encourages people to report suspicious offers and any side effects they feel to the yellow card system.
MHRA Safety Tips When Buying Medication:
Be careful when buying drugs online.
Medicines and medical devices are not ordinary consumer goods and their sale and supply are tightly controlled. Websites operating outside the legal supply chain may seem tempting, for example a prescription drug that is offered without a prescription. These sites not only break the law, they put your health at risk.
Do not self-prescribe.
Self-diagnosis and self-medication can be very dangerous. If you have any concerns about your health, see your GP, get a correct diagnosis, and if medications are prescribed, buy them from a legitimate source.
Visit the #FakeMeds website for tools and resources to help people buy drugs or medical devices safely online.
Notes to Editors
- Read the Interpol press release: “Thousands of fake online pharmacies closed as part of the INTERPOL operation”
- The Medicines and Health Products Regulatory Agency is responsible for regulating all medicines and medical devices in the UK making sure they work and are sufficiently safe. All of our work is backed by solid, evidence-based judgments to ensure that the benefits justify the risks.
- The MHRA is a center of the Medicines and Health Products Regulatory Agency which also includes the National Institute for Biological Standards and Control (NIBSC) and the Clinical Practice Research Datalink (CPRD). The MHRA is an executive agency of the Ministry of Health and Social Affairs.
- Operation Pangea is an international initiative to target the illegal Internet drug trade. It was launched by the MHRA in April 2006 and began as the UK Internet Day of Action (IDA). The annual operation is the largest enforcement action of its kind on the Internet to date and is coordinated by INTERPOL, in collaboration with the World Customs Organization (WCO), the Permanent Forum on International Drug Crime (PFIPC), the Pharmaceutical Agency Heads Working Group of Enforcement Officers (WGEO), Europol and the Pharmaceutical Security Institute (PSI), and supported by the Center for Safe Internet Pharmacies (CSIP) and private sector companies. These include Netcraft, which in this operation worked closely with the MHRA to remove phishing websites / ads promoting the sale of fake and unlicensed drugs. The Agency also works with LegitScript, Google, Mastercard, Visa, American Express and PayPal.
- The #FakeMeds Campaign is a public health campaign aimed at reducing the harm caused by buying counterfeit, unlicensed or counterfeit medical products online. The #FakeMeds campaign site provides practical steps the public can take when buying medical products safely online. This includes purchases from reputable sources and product brands to research. Previous phases of the campaign have focused on fake erectile dysfunction (ED) drugs, questionable diet pills and fake STI self-test kits. More tips and advice on how to buy drugs and medical products safely online. Follow #FakeMeds on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.
- The MHRA yellow card program helps the MHRA monitor the safety of all healthcare products in the UK to ensure they are acceptable to patients and those who use them.