Record Number of Fake Drugs seized during INTERPOL Operation

As part of "Operation PANGEA XIV" against illegal internet trade with medicines an action week coordinated by INTERPOL took place from 18-25 May 2021. This year's operation focused on COVID-19-related medicines and medical devices, such as medical masks or COVID-19 rapid tests.   

Fake drugs carry risks

Fake medicines can be dangerous for a number of reasons. They might be falsified or deliberately mislabelled. In other cases, the medicines may be genuine but have been stolen and then incorrectly stored or they may have expired. This means they could be ineffective or contaminated.

Risks in connection with illegal drugs are in particular:

  • Too high or too low doses of active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs),
  • Wrong or missing API ,
  • Undeclared API, e.g. in medicines claimed as "purely herbal".

During the PANGEA XIV Operation, checks of some 710,000 packages led to the discovery of fake and illicit drugs.
Supported by the Pharmaceutical Security Institute, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime / World Customs Organization´s Container Control Programme and Europol, overall the operation resulted in the seizure of around 9 million medical devices and illicit pharmaceuticals, including:

  • Hypnotic and sedative medication,
  • Erectile dysfunction pills,
  • Medical devices (Covid Test kits, masks, syringes, catheters, surgical devices, etc.),
  • Analgesics / painkillers,
  • Anabolic steroids,
  • Antiseptics and germicides,
  • Anti-cancer medication,
  • Anti-malarials,
  • Vitamins.

On the Interpol-Website you can find more information regarding the PANGEA-XIV Operation.

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