UK – 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.
In the UK, 113,000 illegally operating websites were also removed or had their URLs blocked. Eight search warrants were executed, with 7 criminals arrested.
Under Operation Pangea, over 100 countries joined forces to seize non-compliant medical products and also to identify and remove thousands of illegally operating websites and URLs offering medicines and devices.
Among the medicines seized were anti-depressants, erectile dysfunction tablets, painkillers, anabolic steroids and slimming pills.
“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,” said Andy Morling, head of Enforcement at the MHRA.
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 work includes the identification of ‘hotspot’ exporting countries, favored 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.
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.
MHRA has advised citizens to be careful when buying medicines online and to avoid self-prescribing.
The Swiss authorities also confiscated 346 packages of illegal medicaments, most of them fake erectile stimulants, as part of the global crackdown.
Investigators also uncovered 120 illegal foreign websites selling the fake medicines under a Swiss brand as part of the PANGEA XIV campaign between May 18 and 25.
Switzerland was one of 55 countries that took part in the coordinated operation, which was carried out for the 14th year.
Previous actions have resulted in Singapore being closed down as a transit country. This year, criminal gangs operating internet sites mainly in southeast Asia, India and Ukraine had typically diverted shipments to Switzerland via Germany and Poland.