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Interpol, FDA Crack Down On Websites Selling Illegal, Fake Drugs

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The US Food and Drug Administration has joined authorities from 123 countries in cracking down on hundreds of online businesses suspected of illegally selling drugs, officials announced on Monday.

Interpol, the international police agency, said that Operation Pangea X involved 197 police, customs and health regulatory bodies. The action had led to the seizure of 25 million illegal and counterfeit medicines worldwide, Reuters reports. The operation is designed to identify the makers and distributors of these drugs being sold on the internet.

The FDA targeted over 500 websites, starting by issuing letters of warning and confiscating close to 100 domain names such as and The websites were selling unapproved versions of prescriptions medicines, the agency said, which included erectile dysfunction pills, painkillers and more.

Scott Gottlieb, FDA Commissioner, stated that the agency has tripled its number of international mail inspectors, and had doubled its cybercrime and port of entry agents. Gottlieb has already made it clear that stopping the opioid epidemic is the agency’s priority, and that these efforts are part of a bigger plan the FDA is carrying out to intercept and stop the proliferation of illegal drugs.

“These rogue online pharmacies are often run by sophisticated criminal networks that knowingly and unlawfully distribute illicit drugs, including counterfeit medicines and controlled substances,” Gottlieb said.

The ease with which consumers can purchase opioid products online is especially concerning to me, given the immense public health crisis of addiction facing our country.

Operation Pangea X led to the launch of 1,058 investigations and the shutdown of 3,584 websites, Interpol said. There were over 3,000 online advertisements for illegal drugs, including dietary supplements, antipsychotics, nutritional products, painkillers and epilepsy medicines.

The operation is an annual effort to curb the spread of illicit drug sales that began in 2008 with eight countries. It is coordinated by Interpol, based in Lyon, France and took place on September 12 to 19.

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