LONDON — Russian gangs and their Chinese associates are making billions of dollars from selling fake and unlicensed medicines over the Internet, putting thousands of people at risk, British police and medical regulators said on Thursday.
The criminals sell the potentially hazardous products through legitimate-looking pharmacy websites run from Russia with their IT infrastructure routed through China to try to evade detection, they said. More than 2.5 million doses of counterfeit, controlled and withdrawn drugs were seized across 79 countries in seven days of raids coordinated by international police organization Interpol under an operation codenamed Pangea that ended on Tuesday.
“Every one of those doses could potentially cause harm,” said Nimo Ahmed, head of enforcement at Britain’s Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency.
The drugs seized included treatments for epilepsy, asthma, acne, narcolepsy, erectile dysfunction, breast cancer and weight loss.