TGA part of international seizure of fake and illegal medicines

5 October 2012

Australia's TGA together with Customs and Border Protection took part in an international operation last week to seize counterfeit and substandard medicines purchased over the Internet.

As part of Operation Pangea V TGA and Customs and Border Protection agents confiscated more than 37,000 pills such as diet supplements and steroids  from the Melbourne and Brisbane International Mail Centres between 25 September to 2 October 2012.

Operation Pangea V is an international Internet week of action targeting the illegal online sale of counterfeit and unlicensed medicines through raising public awareness of the associated health risks.

The operation focuses on websites illegally supplying medicines, some of which are potentially dangerous and is the largest Internet-based action of its kind. It is co-ordinated by INTERPOL, the World Customs Organization (WCO), the Permanent Forum of International Pharmaceutical Crime (PFIPC), the Heads of Medicines Agencies Working Group of Enforcement Officers (HMA WGEO), the pharmaceutical industry and the electronic payments industry. Over 100 countries, including Australia, participated in Operation Pangea V this year.

In addition to seizing counterfeit and illegal products ordered over the Internet, the TGA has also worked with a Brisbane based Domain Name Registrar to remove over 120 overseas websites offering suspect medicines over the Internet.

While Australia is largely protected from the effects of counterfeit medicines and medical devices through a strong regulatory framework and border control measures, Australia's involvement in Operation Pangea V is a timely reminder for consumers of the risks associated with purchasing medicines from unknown overseas based Internet sites.

Medicines purchased over the Internet may contain undisclosed and potentially harmful ingredients, and may not meet the same standards of quality, safety and efficacy as those approved by the TGA for supply in Australia.

More information can be found at: Interpol