The UK’s Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) has led an operation in conjunction with Interpol and medicines regulatory bodies to tackle illegal internet medicines.

The multi-national collaboration, called operation Pangea, has been working target the illegal sale and supply of medicines sold over the Internet.

Operation Pangea has been co-ordinated by the Permanent Forum on International Pharmaceutical Crime, INTERPOL and the World Health Organisation’s International Medical Products Anti-Counterfeiting Taskforce.

It is the first time that action has been taken on an international scale with participating countries including Canada, Germany, Ireland, Israel, New Zealand, Singapore, Switzerland, the UK and the USA.

As part of the operation the MHRA has announced that its investigators carried out co-ordinated visits to a number of UK premises believed to be connected with Internet sites illegally selling and supplying unlicensed or prescription-only medicines.

Medicines advertised include such as Benzylpiperazine, illegal highs and Kamagra (used for male impotence) or prescription-only medicines claiming to treat conditions such as diabetes, impotency, obesity, hair loss and male breast growth as a side effect from bodybuilding steroid abuse.

MHRA investigators seized over a thousand packs of unlicensed medicines, a number of computers and related documentation. In addition, all of the UK website Internet Service Providers (ISPs) have been contacted to close down the infringing websites and in one case to seek compliance by removing the illegal products.

Danny Lee-Frost, head of operations at the MHRA said, “People can be at considerable risk if they buy medicines from illegal websites.”

He added: “Yesterday’s operation demonstrates our continued commitment to safeguard public health and highlights the leading role we play internationally in getting our European and international counterparts to tackle this global issue on the same day as us.”