The Health Minister, Michelle O’Neill has announced the seizure of tens of thousands of illegally imported and unauthorised medicines in the north of Ireland.

Operation Pangea IX, which took place between 30 May and 7 June 2016, involved 103 countries and aimed to disrupt the illicit online sale of medicines, as well as raising awareness of the significant health risks associated with buying medicines online from illegal websites, or through advertisements on social media.

As part of Operation Pangea IX, multiple packages containing some 90,000 tablets and injections destined for addresses throughout the north of Ireland were intercepted. These included:

  • 56,000 diazepam tablets;
  • 23,000 pregabalin tablets;
  • 2000 tramadol tablets; and
  • other medicines including steroids, erectile dysfunction tablets and anti-wrinkle injections

In total the medicines were worth up to £100,000 on the black market.

The type of collaborative work well demonstrated by Operation Pangea, has led to the interception and seizure of many illegal medicines destined for addresses throughout the north,’ the Health Minister said. ‘The truth is that this might very well save lives, as sadly, young people are often unaware of the potentially fatal consequences of taking these unprescribed drugs, particularly when taken with alcohol.’

Global results from Operation Pangea IX include:

  • 103 countries and 193 agencies participated
  • 393 arrests worldwide
  • seizure of over 12million potentially life-threatening medicines worth an estimated USD 53 million (approximately £36.5 million)
  • 4,932 websites identified as being engaged in illegal activity were shut down
  • 334,000 packages were inspected by regulators and customs authorities, of which, 170,340 were seized.
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