Europol has supported a global operation to target trafficking counterfeit medicines. Operation Pangea, coordinated by INTERPOL and involved 90 countries worldwide, took place between 3 and 10 March 2020.
The pandemic has opened up a business opportunity for predatory criminals. Authorities around the world seized nearly 34 000 counterfeit surgical masks, making them the most commonly sold medical product online. Law enforcement officers identified more than 2 000 links to products related to COVID-19.
The results of the operation reveal a worrying increase in unauthorised antiviral medications and the antimalarial chloroquine. Vitamin C, known for its immune-boosting properties, and other food supplements have been seized around the world. Painkillers and antibiotics also represented a significant portion of the seizures.