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‘Operation Pangea V’ Targets Illegal Internet Pharmacies

Between September 25 and October 2, 2012, a partnership between the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) and a number of international regulatory agencies conducted an offensive campaign against more than 4,100 Internet pharmacies that were suspected of selling dangerous unapproved drugs. The action, dubbed ‘Operation Pangea V,’ was intended to bring civil and criminal charges, seizure of illegal products, and removal of websites from offending purveyors. The end result was the shutdown of more than 18,000 illegal pharmacy websites, as well as the seizure of approximately $10.5 million worth of pharmaceuticals worldwide.

Free Defective Drug Lawsuit Evaluation: If you or a loved one has been injured by a drug mentioned in this article, you should contact our law firm immediately. You may be entitled to compensation by filing a suit against the manufacturer of the drug and we can help.

What’s the problem?

Operation Pangea V was announced during the 5th annual International Internet Week of Action (IIWA), a worldwide initiative aimed at combatting the online sale of counterfeit and illegal medical products. The goal of IIWA – which includes involvement from law enforcement, customs and regulatory agencies in 100 countries – is to take manufacturers and retailers of illegal pharmaceutical products out of the supply chain permanently.

“Consumers in the United States and around the world face a real threat from Internet pharmacies that illegally sell potentially substandard, counterfeit, adulterated or otherwise unsafe medicines,” said FDA Commissioner Margaret A. Hamburg, M.D. “This week’s efforts show that strong international enforcement efforts are required to combat this global public health problem. The FDA is committed to joining forces to protect consumers from the risks these websites present.”

In September, the FDA launched ‘BeSafeRx – Know Your Online Pharmacy’ – a national campaign aimed at educating consumers about the risks of purchasing unregulated medications over the Internet. The campaign is intended to:

  • provide the resources to help consumers know the risks of buying from online retailers;
  • help people identify the signs of a fake online pharmacy;
  • instruct consumers on how to find a safe and legitimate Internet pharmacy.

Operation Pangea V targeted Internet retailers selling unapproved and potentially dangerous drugs. Many of the medications sold by these companies have the potential to be hazardous because they contain active ingredients approved for use only under the supervision of a licensed physician, or ingredients that have been recalled due to safety concerns.

Among the medications identified by Operation Pangea V were:

  • Domperidone: Recalled nationwide back in 1998, Domperidone has been linked to adverse health complications including irregular heartbeat, stopping of the heart, and sudden death.
  • Accutane: Powerful acne medication that has the potential to cause a large number of serious side effects, as well as birth defects in babies born to mothers who take the drug during pregnancy. Isotretinoin has been severely restricted by the FDA, and is only available through limited distribution in the United States.
  • Tamiflu (oseltamivir phosphate): Drug used to combat symptoms of the common flu, Tamiflu is commonly sold online as ‘generic Tamiflu;’ however, the FDA has never approved such a product, and tests have revealed that these drugs contain the wrong active ingredient, which renders them ineffective at treating the flu. In some instances, these fraudulent medications contained an ingredient similar to penicillin, which can lead to anaphylaxis in consumers who are allergic to penicillin.
  • Viagra (generic: sildenafil citrate): Widely-used erectile dysfunction medication that can drop blood pressure to dangerously low levels in certain individuals. Consumers taking Viagra without the supervision of a healthcare professional may not be aware of potential drug interactions, and may become injured as a consequence.

“Internet pharmacies that illegally sell unapproved, counterfeit, or potentially adulterated or substandard drugs are an inherently international crime problem,” said John Roth, director of the FDA’s Office of Criminal Investigation. “The FDA is pleased to work with INTERPOL, the international police agency, to fight this problem. Because these criminals do not respect international borders, the international coordinated law enforcement response represented by Operation Pangea demonstrates that international cooperation is the best way to protect the American public from the risk of unsafe drugs.”

Do I Have a Defective Drug Lawsuit?

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Free Defective Drug Lawsuit Evaluation: If you or a loved one has been injured by a drug mentioned in this article, you should contact our law firm immediately. You may be entitled to compensation by filing a defective drug injury suit and we can help.

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