Alliance for Safe Online Pharmacies Applauds Results of Operation Pangea X; Urges Continued Vigilance Against Illegal Online Pharmacies Worldwide
Washington, DC (September 28, 2017) – The Alliance for Safe Online Pharmacies (ASOP Global) applauded the results of INTERPOL’s Operation Pangea X, the most successful action of its kind to target illegal online pharmacies, but said more must be done to stop the global influx of counterfeit or substandard prescription medicines.
Operation Pangea, now in its tenth year, involved INTERPOL, police, and customs and health regulatory authorities from 123 countries, including the U.S., Canada and the EU. The operation led to the seizure of 25 million illicit and counterfeit medicines worldwide worth more than $51 million, 400 arrests, removal of 3,584 illegal online pharmacy websites, and suspension of more than 3,000 illegal online advertisements for illicit drugs.
“The results of this global effort evidence the need for continued vigilance to combat the influx of counterfeit medicines,” said ASOP Global Executive Director, Libby Baney. “There are more than 30,000 active illegal online pharmacies at any given time, and 100% of the time consumers search for ‘buy medicine online,’ they will be directed to illegal and unsafe websites.”
“The risks associated with buying prescription medicines online cannot be overstated,” Baney said. “Products sold by rogue online pharmacies may be stored in unsafe conditions, contain too much, too little or no active ingredients, and/or be laced with dangerous and potentially deadly substances, including illegal fentanyl, mercury, concrete, chalk, boric acid, or anti-freeze.”
The role of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in Operation Pangea X included targeting 500 websites illegally selling unapproved versions of prescription medications, including opioids.
“More than 3,400 illegal online pharmacies sell controlled substances, including fentanyl, Vicodin® and Percocet®, often without a prescription,” Baney explained. “As FDA Commissioner Gottlieb said, ‘the ease with which consumers can purchase opioid products online is deeply especially concerning, given the immense public crisis of addiction facing our country’.”
Results from a 2017 ASOP Global survey published this week revealed that a majority of consumers have or are likely to use the Internet as a potential source for prescription medicines, but 95% of those consumers are unaware of how to find safe online pharmacies, including the .pharmacy program administered by the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy (NABP) and LegitScript’s URL verification tool.
“Since 2009, ASOP Global has been working tirelessly to educate consumers, providers and policymakers about this issue,” Baney said. “As long as people are at risk of receiving dangerous, illegitimate products through these rogue criminal websites, we will continue to do everything we can to keep people around the world safe online.”
About the Alliance for Safe Online Pharmacies
Headquartered in Washington, D.C., the Alliance for Safe Online Pharmacies(ASOP Global) is an international non-profit organization dedicated to combatting illegal online pharmacies and counterfeit drugs to make the Internet safe for consumers worldwide through advocacy, research and education.