International Cooperation Halts Counterfeit Drug Distribution Via Online Pharmacies

Bryan A. Liang, MD, PhD, JD

International cooperation is essential to curbing the widespread illicit sale of substandard, unapproved and counterfeit drugs.  Another essential step is shutting down rogue online pharmacies.

Last week, the Permanent Forum on International Pharmaceutical Crime, INTERPOL and the World Health Organization’s (WHO) International Medical Products Anti-Counterfeiting Taskforce (IMPACT), initiated the first international Internet day of action targeting the illegal online sale of medicines. Codenamed Pangea, last week’s operation was the first time that law enforcement efforts were taken on an international scale, with participating countries including Australia, Canada, Germany, Ireland, Israel, New Zealand, Singapore, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and the United States.

While investigations in a number of countries are still ongoing, Operation Pangea has already resulted in a series of arrests and the seizure of potentially harmful medicines. Investigators have identified locations in each country and visited residential and commercial addresses relating to Internet sites believed to be selling unlicensed or prescription-only medicines claiming to treat conditions such as diabetes, obesity and hair loss.

As an advocate for drug safety, the Partnership for Safe Medicines applauds this international effort to address a global problem. As Jean-Michel Louboutin, INTERPOL’s Executive Director of Police Services, said, “Operation Pangea is a clear demonstration that the international community is harnessing its efforts to ensure there is no anonymity or safety for those individuals engaged in supplying medicines illegally via the Internet.”

For more information about how the international community can work together to stop drug counterfeiters, visit