LYON, France – Falsified and illicit medicines worth an estimated USD 7 million were seized across Asia in an INTERPOL-coordinated operation to combat pharmaceutical crime in the region.
Involving 13 Asian countries, Operation Storm VI saw the arrest of 87 individuals and the investigation of nearly 500 pharmacies and markets, as well as some 100 illicit online pharmacy websites, in addition to the seizure of more than two tonnes of medicines.
More than nine million falsified and illicit pharmaceuticals were recovered including antibiotics, anti-hypertension medication, erectile dysfunction and diet pills.
The month-long (1-30 September) operation coordinated by INTERPOL’s Global Health and Safety unit brought together law enforcement and drug regulatory agencies to target the organized criminal networks behind pharmaceutical crime in Asia.
The Philippines National Police, in collaboration with the INTERPOL National Central Bureau in Manila, seized 300 units of falsified rabies vaccines.
“Operation Storm VI demonstrated the sophistication and determination of criminal groups engaged in pharmaceutical crime, creating dangers to public health and the safety of the population,” said Aline Plançon, Head of INTERPOL’s Global Health and Safety unit.
“There is therefore a need for increased cooperation and information sharing on crimes related to falsified and illicit medical products being manufactured, transported and sold in the Asian region,” added Ms Plançon.
Operation Storm VI was also supported by the Storm Enforcement Network, which was created in 2011 to strengthen coordination and collaboration among police, customs and drug regulatory agencies to combat pharmaceutical crime in the Asia.
The results of the operation were reviewed during a Storm Enforcement Network meeting in Myanmar on 8 and 9 December, which gathered some 35 representatives from nine of the participating countries as well as the Western Pacific Regional Office of the World Health Organization, Hong Kong Customs and private industry partners.
Soe Myaing, Brigadier General of Myanmar Police said: “Through this meeting, we have shared our knowledge and experiences and encouraged more cooperation between INTERPOL and member countries at the regional and international levels. We are looking forward to future cooperation to prevent pharmaceutical crimes.”
Countries participating in Operation Storm VI were Afghanistan, Cambodia, China, India, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Pakistan, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.