Police and customs officers from 81 countries have seized 2.4 million doses of counterfeit medicine sold over the Internet during a one-week operation, international police body Interpol said Thursday.
Fifty-five people were arrested during the September 20-27 operation, codenamed Pangea 4, and more than 13,000 websites closed down, Interpol said.
More than 100,000 illegal doses were seized in France, over half of which were for supposed to be for treating male erection problems, France’s medical security agency that took part in the operation, AFSSAPS, said.
The operation was carried out for the fourth successive year in an effort to inform the public about the risks of buying medicines online.
“Interpol’s member countries and partners have shown through the success of Operation Pangea IV the Internet is not an anonymous safe haven for criminals trafficking illicit medicines,” said Interpol secretary general Ronald Noble.
The agency said it had targeted Internet service providers, online payment companies and delivery companies during the operation, in order that the whole supply chain of fake drugs be broken down.
“We cannot halt the illicit online supply of medicines without a consistent, constant and collective international effort involving all sectors,” said Aline Plancon, head of Interpol’s fake drugs department.
“The operation itself was only made possible thanks to a combined effort involving the 165 different participating agencies sharing and exchanging live information via Interpol’s headquarters in Lyon,” she said.
Interpol has also posted messages on Internet video sharing sites warning punters “Don’t Be Your Own Killer” by buying unlicensed pharmaceuticals.