Various authorities from 123 different countries including the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) are taking action against numerous small businesses that are illegally selling medicines over the internet according to an official statement yesterday.
The international police agency, Interpol, calls this Operation Pangea X and says that it involves 197 police, customs and health regulatory authorities from over a hundred countries. The operation has successfully seized up 25 million illicit and counterfeit drugs and medications that are sold globally. The operation has launched 1,058 investigations, according to Interpol.
The U.S. FDA alone has listed over 500 websites and has issued them with warning letters. These websites sell medications illegally and many of these are opioids that are prescription drugs and liable to abuse. The FDA has also seized over 100 domain names to stop these sales. Some of these include buyklonopin.com and buyhydrocodoneonline.com etc. According to FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, the FDA has increased the number of mail inspectors by three times and has also doubled the experts who work as cybercrime experts and port of entry agents. He said that this would help stop the entry and exit of the illegal drugs.
According to a statement released by the FDA, it has come down upon the websites that sell opioids that are potentially harmful because of the fact that they are unapproved versions of their original self. Further they also state that these sites are selling antibiotics and other products such as injectable epinephrine products to the Americans.
The FDA in their statement say that patients who are buying prescription medicines from these and other illegal websites and online pharmacies are putting their health and welfare at risk. Some of the products sold at these sites, the statement said, were fake or may be contaminated or past their sell-by dates. Some of them may have been banned due to their unsafe nature. The statement says that these online pharmacies are usually run by “sophisticated criminal networks” that could be deliberately selling illicit drugs and controlled substances and fake medicines for profit. Dr. Gottlieb added that that the ease with which some of the sites provide access to opioids online is concerning. This has led to the “immense public health crisis” of substance abuse and addictions in the United States he said. The easy availability of opioids is also leading to their misuse by the public he added. FDA is also working on a comprehensive Enforcement Operations Work Plan, explained Gottlieb to stop the sales of foreign unapproved drugs to Americans.
The operation has also resulted in the removal of 3,584 websites and stopping of over 3,000 online advertisements for illegal drugs, dietary supplements, illegally used pain relievers, antipsychotics, nutritional supplements and epilepsy drugs.
Operation Pangea comes yearly since 2008. It was initially started back then with only eight countries on board. It is coordinated by the Interpol from its headquarters in Lyon, France. Due to the global nature of the problem of illegal and illicit drugs it is necessary that more countries are involved in this cleansing operation. The tenth version of the Operation Pangea was part of the 10th annual International Internet Week of Action (IIWA) (12th to 19th September 2017). IIWA is a global cooperative effort that is coordinated and led by the Interpol.