International crime

Interpol seizes record fake medicine haul worth 8.10 million euros

James R Tourtellotte/Wikimedia Commons

Interpol has seized a record 3.75 million doses of fake medicines worth 8.10 million euros in a week-long international operation, the French-based international police agency announced Thursday.

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Drugs that were supposed to tackle cancer and impotence were in the haul, as well as fake antibiotics, slimming solutions and food supplements.

When someone is sick, can't afford to purchase expensive medicine or is just trying to save money, they are more likely to take a chance and buy medicines online, making themselves vulnerable to purchasing fake, illicit or spurious medical products and thus harming themselves.

Interpol Secretary General Ronald K Noble

Seventy nine people were arrested between 25 September and 2 October in the operation, codenamed Pangea 5, which involved customs services from more than 100 countries.

The international police, whose headquarters is in the southern French city of Lyon, closed 18,000 websites peddling counterfeit medicine were closed. Payments were blocked thanks to the cooperation of credit card companies, such as Visa and Paypal, and messages on social media sites blocked.

This year was the fifth consecutive Pangea exercise.

In 2011 81 countries took part and 2.4 million doses worth 4.6 million euros were seized.

One of the operation’s aims was to increase public awareness of the fraud.

"As the Internet becomes increasingly accessible around the world, so the number of potential victims increases, which is why international multi-sector actions such as Operation Pangea are vital," said Aline Plançon, head of Interpol’s Medical Products Counterfeiting and Pharmaceutical Crime unit.

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