Operation Pangea: Ninety consignments of fake therapeutic goods and illegal medicines seized in Australia

By Gary Scattergood

- Last updated on GMT

The crackdown was welcomed by trade body CMA.
The crackdown was welcomed by trade body CMA.
Ninety consignments of fake therapeutic goods and illegal medicines have been seized in mail facilities across Australia as part of Operation Pangea, a global initiative that was conducted in the country by the Australian Border Force (ABF) and the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA).

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Going global? India

Operation Pangea is a worldwide operation that occurs annually, which aims to disrupt the organised criminal networks behind the online trade of these goods. Coordinated by the World Customs Organization and Interpol, Operation Pangea ​is in its eleventh yearand brings together law enforcement agencies, health regulators, and private sector agencies from over 100 countries.

During Operation Pangea XI,​ ABF officers working in international mail facilities around Australia detected and seized 90 consignments, predominantly containing erectile dysfunction pills, painkillers and narcolepsy medication.

The TGA deployed two specialist teams across key international mail gateway facilities to assist in examining incoming consignments.

Federal Health Department Deputy Secretary, Professor John Skerritt said Operation Pangea XI serves as a timely reminder to consumers about the dangers of obtaining therapeutic goods from unknown or unapproved sources.

“Buying online may seem like a simple, affordable option, but products bought online can be a serious risk to your health as they contain undisclosed and dangerous ingredients. These products could be counterfeit and not assessed for safety, quality and performance. While people may be tempted to buy these products because they are cheaper, they may waste money on products that may not work or may be harmful.”​ Deputy Secretary Skerritt said.

Careful purchasing

The crackdown has been welcomed by trade body Complementary Medicines Australia (CMA).

CMA chief executive, Carl Gibson, said: “Few overseas jurisdictions have regulations for complementary medicines that are as stringent and robust as those in Australia. This means that products purchased online from overseas are not subject to the same high level of scrutiny. A product purchased online from overseas may not contain what is says it does on the label, may contain the wrong ingredient, or even be intentionally tainted with undeclared pharmaceutical drugs. With 90 consignments seized in mail facilities across Australia, Operation Pangea serves as a reminder that consumers must be very careful when making purchases online.

“In contrast, the Australian complementary medicines industry is regulated under one of the most robust safety and quality frameworks in the world, where manufacturers are licensed and inspected by the TGA and must follow the highest standards of manufacture.”

“Apart from the very few types of products that are specifically exempt, all complementary medicines supplied in Australia are required to be entered onto the Australian Register of Therapeutic Goods (ARTG), which is maintained by the TGA. Unless they are included on the ARTG, complementary medicines cannot legally be imported, exported, manufactured, or supplied to consumers. All medicines, including complementary medicines, entered on the ARTG have a number displayed on the pack (AUST L or AUST R).

“This ensures that consumers have access to responsible, evidence-based and high quality products, and the ability to make informed choices about including them within their health care options.”

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