ACBPS and TGA contribute to worldwide crackdown on counterfeit and illegal medicines
Between 13 and 20 May 2014, the Australian Customs and Border Protection Service (ACBPS) and the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) contributed to an international week of action to stop the trade in counterfeit and illegal medicines purchased over the Internet.
Operation Pangea is a worldwide operation that occurs annually, aiming to disrupt organised crime networks behind the online trade of fake and illicit medicines.
Coordinated by the World Customs Organization and INTERPOL, Operation Pangea VII brought together customs, health regulators, national police and private sector agencies from over 100 countries.
During Operation Pangea VII, ACBPS officers seized 51 packages containing over 21,000 units* of counterfeit, or illegal medicines at the Sydney and Melbourne International mail centres, after they had been posted from a range of overseas countries. All items were referred to the TGA for further identification and investigation. A large part of the substances seized were erectile dysfunction or weight loss medications.
ACBPS National Manager Special Investigations, Anthony Seebach, said that Customs and Border Protection was pleased to be involved in this international initiative to raise awareness of the risks of obtaining medicines from unregulated websites.
“Every seizure we made during this operation prevented counterfeit and possibly dangerous medicines from being consumed by the Australian public,” Mr Seebach said.
National Manager for the TGA, Professor John Skerritt, said Australia’s involvement in Operation Pangea VII is a reminder for consumers of the risks associated with purchasing medicines from overseas websites.
“The TGA advises consumers to exercise extreme caution when purchasing medicines over the Internet. Although counterfeit medicines may look like genuine medicines, they can potentially contain either the wrong active ingredient, no active ingredient, too much or too little active ingredient, or dangerous substances. They also may not meet the same standards of quality and safety as those approved by the TGA for supply in Australia.
“Some of the warning signs that a medicine may be counterfeit would be the lack of a need for a prescription for a prescription-only medicine or if the price of the medicine is considerably lower than it normally would be,” Professor Skerritt said.
* One unit equals one tablet or pill, one ampoule in case of injectable pharmaceutical, one litre of medicine in liquid or one kilogram in case of raw material.
Australian Customs and Border protection service 2014, viewed 26 May 2014