By James Simons-
Over 3 million medicines and medical devices valued at over £9 million have been seized by UK officers as part of a global operation tackling the illegal online sale of medicines and medical devices.
Officers from operation Pangea seized millions of illegal medicines being sold online.
Operation Pangea is an international initiative to target the illegal internet trade in medicines. It was instigated by the MHRA in April 2006 and started as the UK Internet Day of Action (IDA). The annual operation is the largest internet based enforcement action of its kind to date and is coordinated by INTERPOL and other organisations.
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.
In a week of action coordinated by Interpol, this year’s ‘Operation Pangea’ ran from 18 to 25 May and saw over 100 countries joining forces to seize non-compliant medical products and also to identify and remove thousands of illegally operating websites and URLs offering medicines and devices.
The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency which is responsible for regulating all medicines and medical devices in the UK by ensuring their safety, told The Eye Of Media.Com that they rely on tip offs and regular assessment of medicine products.
A spokesperson for the MRHA told The Eye Of Media.Com: ” all our medicines are tested for safety , and we respond promptly to reports of people making unsubstantiated claims about products going out to the public.”
The regulatory agency also said they use ”robust and fact-based judgements to ensure that the benefits justify any risks”.
The mass operation also involved coordinating the arrests of several suspected organised criminals.
Anti-Depressants And Erectile Dysfunction Tablets Seized
Among the medicines seized were anti-depressants, erectile dysfunction tablets, painkillers, anabolic steroids and slimming pills.
The news revealed by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency, which is responsible for regulating all medicines and medical devices in the UK by ensuring they work and are acceptably safe, has put many criminals out of business.
Andy Morling, Head of Enforcement at the MHRA, said:
”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 and may lead to serious health issues.
Operation Pangea is a powerful example of what can be achieved through partnership working to tackle this kind of offending. We will continue to work closely with our international partners and UK Border Force to prevent unlicensed medicines from entering the UK, to identify illegally operating websites and to bring those criminals behind them to justice.
The MHRA will be following the week of action with a detailed analysis of the global results to create a better understanding of current and emerging threats.
This wor includes the identification of ‘hotspot’ exporting countries, favoured high-risk medicines being traded on the black market, and the ever-evolving business models of criminals worldwide seeking to take advantage of the public”.
Safe And Legitimate Sources
The MHRA’s #FakeMeds campaign aims 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.
The campaign also highlights the dangers of fake medicines sold online and the negative health effects that taking them can have. It also encourages people to report suspicious offers and any side effects experienced to the Yellow Card scheme.
The MHRA also highlighted the #FakeMeds campaign site gives practical steps the public can take when purchasing medical products safely online. This includes purchasing from recognised sources and the product marks to look out for. Previous phases of the campaign have focused on fake erectile dysfunction (ED) medicines, dodgy diet pills and fake self-testing
Medicines and medical devices are not ordinary consumer goods and their sale and supply is tightly controlled. Websites operating outside the legal supply chain may seem tempting, for example, a prescription medicine offered without a prescription. Not only are these sites breaking the law – they are putting your health at risk.