[Operation Pangea - standing together in combat against international pharmaceutical crime]

Kirstin Smolka, Klaus Gronwald
Bundesgesundheitsblatt, Gesundheitsforschung, Gesundheitsschutz 2017, 60 (11): 1233-1239
Crime on the internet has grown accordingly to the increased use of the internet in everyday life. This includes illegal trading of pharmaceuticals via the internet. Trading in pharmaceuticals as "special commodities" underlies certain legal regulations in Germany, as in most other countries worldwide.Mail order trade (colloquially also known as internet trade) in pharmaceuticals requires approval of the competent regulatory authority. However, numerous illegal internet vendors of medicines present their websites to customers, purporting to be legal pharmacies and trading good and genuine medicines.It is not always easy for customers or patients to distinguish between legal websites, i. e. pharmacies operating with the approval of the authorities, and illegal, criminal websites. Patients accept dangerous risks when they order medicines on such illegal websites. Consumption of falsified or unlicensed pharmaceuticals of unknown origin often exposes patients' health to serious risks and dangers.Operation PANGEA is now in its tenth year of fighting illegal internet trade in pharmaceuticals at an internationally coordinated level. The results of Operation PANGEA are published in national and international media. Thus the public should be alert to the risks of buying medicines from one of the numerous illegal vendors on the internet.The competence for combatting illegal sales of medicines lies with customs and police agencies amongst others. These enforcement agencies regularly participate in the annual PANGEA Operations. The following article describes the origin and background of this operation, and outlines both the work of customs and police in this context, as well as the results of the latest PANGEA Operation.

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