Thousands of illegally imported and unauthorised medicines have been seized in Northern Ireland as part of an international operation, Health Minister, Michelle O’Neill has revealed.
Operation Pangea IX which took place between May 30 and June 7 and involved 103 countries aimed to disrupt the illicit online sale of medicines as well as raise awareness of the significant health risks associated with buying medicines online from illegal websites.
A dedicated operations centre at INTERPOL’s General Secretariat headquarters in Lyon, served as the central hub for information exchange among the participating countries and agencies.
As part of Operation Pangea IX, multiple packages containing some 90,000 tablets and injections destined for addresses throughout Northern Ireland were intercepted.
They included: 56,000 diazepam tablets; 23,000 pregabalin tablets; 2000 tramadol tablets; and other medicines including steroids, erectile dysfunction tablets and anti-wrinkle injections.
In total these are worth up to £100,000 on the black market.
Health Minister Michelle O’Neill said; “The risk to the public due to illegal or counterfeit medicines is very real. This problem is not something we can tackle in isolation and my Department is committed to working with other agencies to stop the supply of illegal medicines over the internet.
“Operation Pangea IX has involved the coordinated efforts of a number of agencies including the Police, Customs and medicines enforcement officers from my Department, who will continue to be diligent all year round in their efforts and are determined to combat this serious problem.
“The type of collaborative work well demonstrated by Operation Pangea, has led to the interception and seizure of many illegal medicines destined for addresses throughout the north. The truth is that this might very well save lives, as sadly, young people are often unaware of the potentially fatal consequences of taking these unprescribed drugs, particularly when taken with alcohol.”