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Thousands Of Pharma Domains Shut Down

May 26, 2014

In the largest-ever global operation targeting counterfeit medicines, an INTERPOL-led swoop has resulted in more than 10,600 illegitimate pharma domains being shut down.

200 law enforcement agencies in 111 countries participated in Operation Pangea VII, which saw 237 arrests and the seizure of  nearly USD $36 million worth of medicines.

Operation Pangea VII didn't just go after the domain operators, but also "rogue domain registrars" and services connected with delivery and payment processing.

"The interceptions and seizures physically stop these potentially life-threatening medicines from reaching unsuspecting consumers, but equally as important is shutting down the online platforms used by organized crime to target the public," said Aline Plancon, head of INTERPOL's Medical Products Counterfeiting and Pharmaceutical Crime (MPCPC) unit.

INTERPOL Secretary General Ronald K. Noble said the organized crime networks behind the sales of illicit medicines do not care about the potentially life-threatening consequences of their ventures.

Approximately 543,000 packages were inspected by customs and regulatory authorities during the period of 13-20 May;  of which nearly 20,000 were seized. Three illicit laboratories in Colombia were also dismantled as part of the effort.

The President of the Pharmacy Guild of Australia, Mr George Tambassis, says ".. the internet pharmacy environment can be tricky to navigate, with significant numbers of unscrupulous and illegal operators in the mix with bona fide pharmacies, operated by ethical professionals registered with their jurisdiction."

"You just can't be sure, and it's not worth the risk to deal with someone you can't identify."

Australian Customs has reported intercepting 51 packages containing unauthorised medicine in Sydney and Melbourne mail centres over a seven day period during May.

Consumers planning to buy medicines online should review related information from Australia's Therapeutic Goods Administration.

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