Operation Pangea IX Shuts Down over 4,000 Fake Online Pharmacies

Physician_TIp_In its 9th year, the International Week of Action brought together enforcement organizations from 115 countries throughout the globe in an effort of eliminate the sales of counterfeit medication online.

The 9th Interpol-led effort Operation Pangea just completed its efforts, according to a June 9th press release from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). George Karavetsos, director of the FDA’s Office of Criminal Investigations has stated “Preventing illegal internet sales of dangerous unapproved drugs is critical to protecting consumers’ health. Operation Pangea IX demonstrates the FDA’s continuing commitment to stand united with our international partners to protect consumers in the United States and throughout the world from criminals who put profit above the health and safety of consumers.”

The Regulatory Affairs Professional Society reports that in addition to the FDA effort, detailed inspections were conducted at International Mail Facilities (IMFs) which resulted in the seizure of almost 800 packages possibly containing counterfeit medication that shall be destroyed if they are found to violate the law.

WebMD notes that as part of Operation Pangea, the FDA sent formal complaints requesting suspension of “4,402 websites, including 110 that sell the chemical 2,4-Dinitrophenol (DNP) as a weight-loss product. DNP is widely used as a dye, wood preserver, and herbicide and does not have FDA approval for use a drug.”

In May, Adam Alden of Bakersfield pleaded guilty to distributing DNP as an “extreme weight loss drug” to consumers via online sales, according to the FDA. The FDA also reports that a Rhode Island customer of Alden’s died as a direct result of taking the DNP that Alden sold him.

According to the FDA, Alden used E-Bay to sell DNP to customers throughout the United States. Alden faces up to one year in prison, 5 years of probation, and a $100,000 fine at his sentencing in July 19th.
By S. Imber