German customs authorities have scored a victory over illegal trade in medicines on the internet. During this year’s week-long international PANGEA campaign, officials again focused on parcels, packages and letters containing medication. Customs officers intercepted a total of 961 pieces of mail from abroad, which held some 67,900 tablets, capsules and vials. In the week from September 12 to 19, authorities monitored the parcel centers at Frankfurt and Leipzig airports in particular, as well as the international postal service in Niederaula, Hessen.
According to customs officials, most of the confiscated consignments came from India. But counterfeit products also came from China, Poland, Russia, and Thailand. With more than 45 percent, sexual enhancers were found in the largest share of the shipments. In addition, officials seized banned dietary supplements, diet pills, sedatives, and painkillers.
The aim of the campaign, regularly carried out by customs and police authorities, and coordinated by INTERPOL, is to intercept illegal products, and also to inform the public about the dangers of buying medicines on the internet. Customs authorities warn that drugs containing false active ingredients, or even substances that are hazardous, pose a "incalculable health risk." In addition, private individuals who import any medications not approved in Germany are committing an offence.
The Federal Criminal Police Office has compiled a flyer with information on the safe purchase of medicines on the internet. The customs office website also offers tips and advice for consumers.
The U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) has launched an awareness campaign called “BeSafeRx: Know Your Online Pharmacy.” It provides consumers with information on how to buy medicine safely online.
More than 100 countries, the World Customs Organization, Europol, pharmaceutical companies, as well as global payment and delivery service providers were involved in the operation, which took place for the tenth time this year.
Since the end of the previous campaign, PANGEA IX, in June of last year, the German police have investigated in 171 cases – these involve 145 primarily internationally organized operators of 34 websites that offer medicines not approved in Germany.