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26 June 2015

INTERPOL Storm meeting looks to enhance investigative expertise in pharmaceutical crime

SINGAPORE – Enhancing the capacity of police, customs and health regulatory officials to investigate pharmaceutical crime was the focus of a meeting held under the umbrella of the Storm Enforcement Network.

Bringing together more than 40 participants from 11 countries (Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Pakistan, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam),  the two-day (23 to 24 June) meeting hosted at the INTERPOL Global Complex for Innovation was also attended by representatives from the  World Customs Organization (WCO) and the Western Pacific Office of the World Health Organization (WHO).

The meeting was followed by a training course in which participants were taught how to effectively detect and investigate pharmaceutical crime. They also took part in exercises based on pharmaceutical crime scenarios.

Created in 2011, under the impetus of INTERPOL’s Medical Products Counterfeiting and Pharmaceutical Crime (MPCPC) unit Storm looks to promote a multi-agency, voluntary partnership approach between national Drug Regulatory Agencies (DRAs), police and customs in the participating countries, as well as enhance collaboration with the private sector and academia, focused on combating pharmaceutical crime.

“Closer collaborative efforts on sharing timely intelligence and developing investigative and operational knowledge means that enforcement and regulatory agencies in different jurisdictions will be better positioned to address the growing threat of pharmaceutical crime,” said Aline Plançon, the Head of INTERPOL’s MPCPC unit.

The Storm meeting in Singapore comes in the wake of a recent INTERPOL-coordinated global operation targeting the criminal networks behind the sale of fake medicines via illicit online pharmacies.

Operation Pangea VIII brought together 236 agencies from police, customs and health regulatory authorities across 155 countries. Private partners from the Internet and payment industries also supported the operation, which saw a record number of 20.7 million illicit and counterfeit medicines seized, as well as 156 arrests worldwide.