Fake medicine found during Pangea XI

Pangea XI pills drugsNorwegian Customs Officers found several different types of illegal and counterfeit drugs as well as illegal medical equipment in 253 of 1, 500 controlled mail items during a major international operation (Pangea XI). Photo: Customs

Fake medicine found by Customs during Pangea XI

Interpol coordinated operation Pangea XI – an international action that focuses on illegal and fake medicines and medical devices ordered via the internet. Several authorities in 116 countries participated in various measures during the period October 9th-16th, 2018.


In Norway, the Norwegian Medicines Agency has the overall responsibility for the operation, which has been carried out in close collaboration with the Norwegian Customs Office. The Norwegian action has focused on private imports of counterfeit and illegal drugs and the import of illicit dental equipment for use in dental clinics.

Fake drugs

The bulk of the seizures has been made at the mail terminal at Alnabru, the Eastern Norwegian terminal at Lørenskog and on the airport at Gardermoen, where foreign mail arrives in Norway. Throughout the action week, more than 100 consignments of potency pills were seized, as well as more than 30 shipments of drugs that have an anxiolytic effect on the central nervous system.

– A small selection of drugs was analyzed by the Norwegian Medicines Agency. The analyzes showed on two occasions that potency pills contained the incorrect amount of the active substance according to what was declared on the package. An anxiolytic drug that was analyzed contained a different active substance than the original. This is not an unusual finding in analyzes of addictive tablets sold illegally on the internet, says Pharmaceuticals Inspector, Line Saxegaard.

Illegal private imports

The list of types of seized drugs is long and contains, among other things, antibiotics, epilepsy medication, cancer medicine, medicine for Parkinson’s disease and abortion pills. Most are probably ordered via the internet.

– The confiscations made during Pangea XI, unfortunately, confirms the import of illegal and counterfeit medicines and medical devices that do not conform to the medical device regulations regarding labelling and operating instructions. Everything seized during the action will be destructed or sent to the police, says Deputy Director of the Control Department in the Norwegian Customs Directorate, Dag Jørstad. He informs that the Customs Officers make daily seizures of drugs in postal packages. It is not allowed for individuals to import drugs by mail to Norway.

– There are still many who buy prescription drugs from foreign websites even if private imports of such drugs are not allowed. If you want to buy online medicines, we recommend using a legitimate Norwegian online pharmacy. These are marked with a logo that shows that they are allowed to sell medicines online. It is often criminal networks that are behind online pharmacy that sells prescribed drugs without a prescription. You never know what you get, and at worst you can contrive serious health damage from using such drugs. Talk to your doctor if you are sick and need treatment, encourages Saxegaard.

Dental equipment without documentation

During the course of the action, the Norwegian Medicines Agency considered whether several shipments of medical equipment fulfilled the labelling and operating instructions. A decision was made to destroy a shipment that was addressed to a wholesaler of dental equipment. It contained 60 dental drill bits and needles that did not meet the requirements regarding labelling and operating instructions. The remaining shipments of medical equipment were handed over, but two will be followed up in due course.


Findings Pangea XI, 2018 – Norway

Total number of packages examined 1,500
Total number of packages with illegal content 253
Total number of units seized (pills, capsules, glasses etc.) 24,485
Number of police reports 5

Findings Pangea XI, 2018 – international

Total number of packages examined ±1,000,000
Total number of units seized (pills, capsules, glasses, etc.) ±1,000,000
Estimated value of shipments (USD)  ±14,000,000
Number of persons arrested 859
Number of websites removed 3,671

Read the press release from Interpol here.


© Norwegian Customs / #Norway Today