The Health Products Regulatory Authority (HPRA), in partnership with Revenue's Customs Service and An Garda Siochána today joined Minister for Health, Simon Harris TD, to announce it has detained over 200,000 units of illegal prescription medicines (2016: 60,000) valued at over €850,000 as part of the Interpol-coordinated Operation Pangea X. The week long focus in Ireland to protect public health and highlight the dangers posed by illegal medicines and other illicit health products, also resulted in two arrests, the investigation of 38 websites and eight social media pages being taken offline. Simultaneously, today it was announced by Interpol that the global Operation Pangea X resulted in over 25 million illegal medicines and medical devices worth over US$56 million begin detained across 123 countries.
The breakdown of the 200,00 detained medicines in Ireland includes:
Some 197 enforcement agencies across 123 countries were involved in Operation Pangea X which targets the supply of falsified/counterfeit and other illegal medicines and medical devices, primarily via illicit online sales. The HPRA, Revenue’s Customs Service and An Garda Síochána jointly led the operation in Ireland.
Commenting Dr Lorraine Nolan, Chief Executive, HPRA, said this year’s Operation Pangea had been highly successful with a substantial increase in the volume of product detained.
“There are a number of factors at play here resulting in a threefold annual increase namely enhancing our intelligence led enforcement activities and building successfully on our deep year-round collaboration with our partner agencies. Fundamentally, the illicit supply and sale of illegal medicines to the general public carries serious health risks for people. The products we have detained are prescription only medicines for a reason – people should only be taking them under the care of their doctor and in the knowledge they have been supplied by a regulated and trusted source such as their local pharmacy. There is no guarantee as to what is contained in these products we have detained or under what conditions they have been manufactured. We continue to urge members of the public not to use unverified and unregulated sources such as the internet to buy prescription only medicines or other illegal health products.”