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Web merchants' illicit medicines seized

world Updated: Nov 20, 2009 09:01 IST
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Police in 24 nations raided illegal internet pharmacies this week, intercepted parcels at mail depots and seized stocks of illicit medicines, German police and US officials said.

The raids, which began Monday, were aimed at confiscating counterfeit drugs, medicines sold without prescriptions and so-called lifestyle drugs such as anabolic steroids, growth hormones and slimming pills.

Interpol and the World Health Organisation helped coordinate the raids. Some 751 websites were found to be breaking laws and 72 were taken down, according to an Interpol tally. More than 16,000 packages were opened by customs officers and 995 of them seized.

German police said Thursday some of the medicines were potentially harmful, while others contained less active agents than claimed on the label or were sold without proper patient information leaflets.

The five-day push, to end Friday, was code-named Operation Pangea II.

In Washington, the US Food and Drug Administration said it targeted 136 websites that appeared to be selling "unapproved or misbranded drugs" to US consumers.

"Many US consumers are being misled in the hopes of saving money by purchasing prescription drugs over the Internet from illegal pharmacies," said FDA Commissioner Margaret A Hamburg.

The FDA notified internet service providers and domain name registrars about the legal violations.