113 Thousand Sites Selling Counterfeit Drugs and Medical Products Closed

UMMATIMES - Interpol said authorities in 92 countries had shut down 113,000 websites and online marketplaces selling counterfeit or illicit drugs and medical products. Fake products sold include Covid-19 test kits and face masks.

"As the pandemic forces more people to turn their lives online, criminals are rapidly targeting these new 'customers'," Interpol Secretary General Jurgen Stock said Tuesday.

According to Interpol, illegal Covid-19 test kits accounted for more than half of all medical devices seized from May 18-25. Meanwhile, Italian authorities found more than 500,000 fake surgical masks and 35 machines for their production and packaging.

A total of 227 people involved in the business in various countries have been arrested. Authorities found and confiscated US$23 million worth of pharmaceutical products. "While some individuals knowingly buy illegal drugs, thousands of victims are unknowingly putting their health and lives at risk," Stock said.

Counterfeit and illegal drugs were also found hidden in shipments of clothing, jewelry, toys and food. The roughly nine million devices and drugs seized are the highest number since Interpol began coordinating the counterfeit drug campaign. The operation, known as Pangea, began in 2008.