From September 12-19, 2017, Canada was one of 123 countries that participated in Operation Pangea X, which targets the online sale of counterfeit and otherwise falsified and unlicensed pharmaceutical products. This year marks the 10th anniversary of Operation Pangea and included a record number of countries participating in the INTERPOL-led global week of action.
In Canada, Operation Pangea is a joint effort between the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA), Health Canada and INTERPOL-Ottawa.
Internationally, Operation Pangea X resulted in 400 arrests worldwide and the seizure of more than USD 51 million worth of potentially dangerous medicines. Involving 197 police, customs and health regulatory authorities from around the world, Operation Pangea X led to a record number of 25 million illicit and counterfeit medicines seized worldwide. The action resulted in the launch of 1,058 investigations, the suspension of more than 3,000 online ads for illicit pharmaceuticals and 3,584 websites taken offline.
In Canada, inspections at border centres resulted in the assessment of 4,545 packages. Of those inspected, 86% were either seized or refused because they contained counterfeit and/or unlicensed health products, such as illegal prescription drugs. Products confiscated this year included illicit erectile dysfunction medication, hair loss medication, and counterfeit dietary and health supplements. The vast majority (97%) were sexual enhancement products (primarily erectile dysfunction medications) that were either fake or unauthorized.
The street value of the total amount seized and refused is estimated to be CAD 1.76 million. Canadian efforts also resulted in the investigation of 45 websites.
"Consumers should be extremely cautious if buying drugs and other health products over the Internet. Operation Pangea highlights the work and collaboration that happens all year round between law enforcement, border officers and health officials to help protect Canadians from counterfeit and unauthorized medications and medical devices."
"INTERPOL is a robust international law enforcement network facilitating the mobilization of our efforts in combatting transnational organized crime. Every year, Operation Pangea is an opportunity to inform our citizens about the risks and dangers of purchasing medicines online. Our goal is to make it increasingly difficult for criminals to profit from illicit criminal activity and to keep Canadians safe."
"The CBSA is proud to once again participate in Operation Pangea, which celebrates its 10th anniversary this year. This Operation highlights our Agency's crucial role as the first line of defence in stopping counterfeit health products from entering our country. We remain committed to working with our domestic and international law enforcement partners and agencies to protect the health and safety of Canadians."
- Starting with just eight countries in 2008, Operation Pangea has grown exponentially during the past 10 years, with police, customs and drug regulatory authorities from 123 countries taking part in 2017, seizing 25 million of illicit and counterfeit medicines.
- Canadians who buy counterfeit and unlicensed medicines online not only put their health and lives in danger, but also increase the risk of becoming victims of credit card fraud, identity theft, and malware viruses.
- Canadians are strongly encouraged to be vigilant when purchasing pharmaceuticals via the Internet, they are reminded to only buy from legitimate online pharmacies and to share any information on suspected illicit activity with their local police.