US FDA Joins Interpol and Other International Enforcement Agencies for Operation Pangea XI

Source: Wikimedia Commons

The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has announced the conclusion of Operation Pangea XI’s International Week of Action.  In its eleventh year, Operation Pangea targets websites that sell counterfeit and misbranded drugs.  This year’s effort shut down 465 websites that were selling non-FDA approved prescription drugs including drugs for oncology, antivirals, opioids and other untested prescription drugs to U.S. consumers.

FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, M.D.  described Pangea’s mission:

“The sale of potentially dangerous and counterfeit drugs by criminal networks on the internet is a large and growing threat to the public health. The illegal online pharmacies that we’re taking action against are often run by sophisticated criminal networks that knowingly and unlawfully distribute illicit drugs, including potentially counterfeit medicines and controlled substances both on the surface and dark web. Consumers go to these websites believing that they’re buying safe and effective medications. But consumers are being put at risk by individuals who put financial gains above patient safety. I’m particularly concerned about the ease with which consumers can gain access to controlled substances and prescription opioids online. This is one reason why we’ve stepped up our efforts, both from a policy and enforcement standpoint, to take these bad actors down.”

In Switzerland, Swissinfo reports that authorities seized 304 shipments containing “illegal medicinal products or doping agents,” including heart-shaped chocolates laced with ED medication.  Swissinfo also reports that worldwide, 500 tons of illegal medicines, and 110,000 medical devices were seized between October 9 and October 15.

In Singapore, authorities reported via the Straits Times that 4,520 illegal health products were seized, and 90% of the illicit medication were weight-loss products containing banned pharmaceuticals like Sibutramine.

In Paris, ABS/CBN news reports that Operation Pangea made 859 arrests worldwide, and shut down 3,671 web links that included websites, social media pages, and online marketplaces.

As FDA Commissioner Gottlieb explained it,  “Today’s major operation by FDA, together with our international regulatory and law enforcement partners, demonstrates that we’ll aggressively pursue those who place patients at risk and seek to profit from illegal products.”