The tenth annual Operation Pangea, an international week-long action organized by Interpol to tackle the sale of counterfeit and illicit medicines online, targeted hundreds of fake pharmacies. 197 police, customs and health regulatory authorities from a record 123 countries were involved. A record number of 25 million illicit and counterfeit medicines were seized worldwide. The action resulted in the launch of 1,058 investigations, 3,584 websites taken offline and the suspension of more than 3,000 online advertisizements for illicit pharmaceuticals. There were 400 arrests worldwide and the seizure of more than $51 million worth of potentially dangerous medicines.
Among the websites taken down was GlavMed, which used infected computers to send pharmaceutical spam directed to so-called “Canadian” pharmacies, and was selling oral chloramphenicol, a drug that was pulled from the U.S. market due to serious and potentially life-threatening side effects.
As part of Operation Pangea, the FDA and other federal agencies worked together at the International Mail Facilities in Chicago, Miami and New York to detain 500 packages of suspected illicit pharmaceuticals. Commissioner Gottlieb said that the FDA has “recently tripled the staff we have in the IMFs to improve our ability to inspect packages that are suspected of containing illegal drugs.”