The UK Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) celebrated 15 years since the launch of Operation Pangea by providing UK statistics from the programme.
The news of counterfeit Ozempic (semaglutide) pens has raised alarms over the last few months with the manufacturer, Novo Nordisk, and multiple countries reporting the harms of these products along with highlighting the differences in the packaging of the fake products, compared to the original.
Operation Pangea is coordinated by Interpol with support from multiple global organisations including the World Customs Organization, the World Health Organization (WHO), the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, the International Narcotics Control Board, and national health regulatory agencies.
The agency stated that the MHRA’s Criminal Enforcement Unit (CEU) has seized over 25 million illegally traded medicines and devices in the UK, which are valued at more than £84m ($101.9m) in the past 15 years. Furthermore, the agency seized illegal medicines worth £5m in 2023.
Operation Pangea XVI, which ran from 3-10 October, led to the seizure of medications worth $7m, as per Interpol. Most seized medications globally were erectile dysfunction medications. The biggest medical device seizure was the confiscation of approximately 11,000 Covid-19 irregular test kits in Australia.
Counterfeit Covid-19 medical devices have been an ongoing issue before, with the previous iteration of Operation Pangea (Operation Pangea XIII) seizing some 37,000 counterfeit medical devices in 2021. As per WHO, approximately one in ten medical products in low-income and middle-income countries is substandard or falsified.
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