Through these two agencies, Guyana joined 111 countries in an international week of action titled ‘Operation PANGEA’, targeting the online sale of counterfeit and illegal medicines where some 543,531 packages were inspected by customs and regulatory authorities, of which 19,618 were seized.
The operation also resulted in the seizure 9,482,646 units of potentially dangerous medication with a value of US 35,859,018 dollars.
In its third year of participation, the GRA took its campaign to various Ports of entry with the aim of sensitizing Customs officers not only of the dangers associated with purchasing pharmaceuticals online, but also the necessity of recording all medications entering Guyana.
These campaigns were complimented with the recording and airing of a special edition of GRA’s television programme, ‘Let’s Talk Tax’ which focused on the dangers of procuring pharmaceuticals via the internet and GRA’s and the Food and Drug Analyst Department’s role in monitoring such imports.
As the largest global Internet-based operation focusing on illicit websites selling counterfeit medicines, Operation Pangea VII engaged police, customs and national regulatory authorities to target websites supplying fake and unapproved medicines, and to increase awareness of the serious health risks connected to purchasing medicines online.
Public awareness campaigns were conducted in many countries; however, six were produced by Guyana. Operation Pangea VII was coordinated by INTERPOL, with the World Customs Organization, the Permanent Forum of International Pharmaceutical Crime, the Heads of Medicine Agencies, Working Group of Enforcement Officers, the Pharmaceutical Security Institute, Europol, and supported by private sector companies including the Center for Safe Internet Pharmacies, Visa, Mastercard, PayPal and LegitScript.
The week-long operation targeted the main areas involved in the illegal online medicine trade: Internet Service Providers (ISPs), electronic payment systems and delivery services. More than 9610 websites linked to illicit online pharmacies were identified and shut down, in addition to the suspension of payment facilities of illegitimate pharmacies and the disruption of a substantial number of spam messages.
A dedicated operations centre at INTERPOL’s General Secretariat headquarters in Lyon served as a central hub for information exchange among the participating countries and agencies.
Additionally, the goal of the International Week of Action was to protect the public’s health by increasing public awareness about the dangers and risks associated with purchasing medicines and medical devices from websites. Other goals included identifying the producers and distributors of counterfeit or otherwise illegal pharmaceutical products or medical devices, targeting these individuals or businesses with civil or criminal action, and seizing counterfeit and illegal products and remove them from the supply chain.