Operation Pangea VII, a global law enforcement effort against fake medicines and their manufacturers and sellers, occurred from May 13-20 this year. It was the largest-ever Pangea operation since the enforcement’s inception by INTERPOL in 2008. This year, 200 law enforcement agencies, with support from CSIP and private sector companies, seized 9.4 million fake and illicit drugs. The operation included 100 more enforcement agencies than the previous year, and also took on a new focus to crack down on dangerous fakes–social media.
Conducted on a yearly basis, the intent of each Pangea operation is to build upon the best practices identified from previous operations to combat counterfeit drugs. For the first time, Operation Pangea VII paid particular attention to social media channels as a means of advertising counterfeit drugs and successfully eliminated ads on social media networks, removed YouTube videos, and shuttered rogue pharmacy websites.
The following were some of the key highlights in the social media clean-up effort:
- 19,000 ads on channels such as Facebook, YouTube and Twitter were removed.
- 10,600 illegal online pharmacy websites were shut down.
- 1,975 websites that were selling products in violation of U.S. law were reported. by the FDA to service providers and domain registrars.
- 18,671 YouTube videos used to promote illicit drugs were removed by the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) in the UK.
- There were 239 arrests and 1,235 investigations launched.
According to Aline Plançon, head of INTERPOL’s Medical Products Counterfeiting and Pharmaceutical Crime (MPCPC) unit, “The results from Operation Pangea VII are not just about the seizures and arrests, but also about demonstrating the growing commitment from member countries in tackling these crimes, and their increasing expertise.”
At CSIP, we are encouraged by the success of Operation Pangea VII and the focus on removing access to counterfeit medicines and sellers via social media. Rest assured that our social media is a source of reliable information along with our members and partners, such as Fight the Fakes and Partnership for Safe Medicines. We will continue in our efforts to strengthen our partnerships and educate consumers on dangerous counterfeit drugs sold online.
The Center for Safe Internet Pharmacies (CSIP) and our 13 member companies have the shared goal of helping address the growing problem of consumer access to illegitimate pharmaceutical products on the Internet. Continue to read this blog for updates on CSIP’s education, enforcement and information-sharing efforts.
This item was highlighted in CSIP’s February 2015 newsletter.