WASHINGTON– The Partnership for Safe Medicines, a public health group committed to the safety of pharmaceutical medicines, applauds the International Criminal Police Organization (INTERPOL) for organizing the seizure of over $11 million in counterfeit medicines during Operation Pangea XV, an initiative to combat the global trafficking of counterfeit pharmaceuticals marketed and sold online. During the week-long annual operation, law enforcement officers from 94 countries fanned out to investigate and shut down websites selling illicit medical products.
“It is encouraging to see the hard work of our law enforcement officials pay off in another successful Operation Pangea,” said Tom Kubic, board chair and President of the Partnership for Safe Medicines. “This work is more important now than ever. As PSM continues to monitor the counterfeit pill crisis across the United States and online, we have tracked deaths due to fake pills sold on social media in 21 states.”
The work of INTERPOL member countries and participating law enforcement officers, including the United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement Intellectual Property Rights and Commercial Fraud Center (ICE-IPR), play a vital role in investigating, inspecting, and seizing illicit medicines and healthcare products. Collectively, they support INTERPOL’s mandate to make the world a safer place.
This year, the operation completed 7,800 seizures of illegal and misbranded medicines, including more than 317,000 counterfeit COVID-19 test kits, unsafe pre-filled syringes, counterfeit antibiotic pills, and more. Of the packages searched by law enforcement, 48 percent contained illegal or counterfeit medicine; at least 36 organized crime groups were behind these illegal products; and over 1,200 advertisements were found on all major social media platforms and messaging apps selling fake and illegal medicines.
“While these numbers are shocking, they are not wholly surprising given the similar trends we have seen across the United States,” said Kubic. “Drug traffickers continue to operate online and on social media platforms, selling adulterated, substandard, and counterfeit medicines that can have deadly consequences. Law enforcement personnel are unfortunately already overwhelmed by this problem, and deserve all the resources we can devote to the problem.”
The Partnership for Safe Medicines is committed to working with law enforcement, policymakers, and families who have lost loved ones to counterfeit medicines to ensure the resources are available to combat this crisis and our U.S. policies protect Americans.