Public advisory

Buying your health products on the Internet? Know the risks

Last updated


Unauthorized health products, including drugs, natural health products and medical devices, sold online.
Health products - Product safety
Health products - Unauthorized product
Medical devices - Unauthorised device
What to do

If you buy health products online, buy them from a reputable website and check that they are authorized for sale by Health Canada. Report suspected illegal health products to Health Canada.


Affected products

Drugs, natural health products, and medical devices that have not been authorized by Health Canada and may pose serious health risks.


As part of Operation Pangea XVI—an international effort led by INTERPOL to disrupt the online sale of counterfeit and other illegal health products around the world—Health Canada is reminding consumers to be careful when buying health products over the Internet.

Health products sold online may seem legitimate and safe, but some may not actually be authorized for sale in Canada and could be dangerous to your health. It is important to know how to spot risky websites and products if you are buying health products—including drugs, natural health products, and medical devices—online.

Unauthorized health products have not been assessed by Health Canada for safety, efficacy, and quality and as a result, can pose serious risks to your health. For example, they may be fake, badly stored, mislabeled, expired, or subject to recalls. Unauthorized drugs or natural health products may have no active ingredients, the wrong ingredients, or dangerous additives such as prescription drugs not listed on the label. Unlicensed medical devices might be low quality, may not work, or may be unsafe.

During Operation Pangea's Week of Action (October 3 – 10, 2023), Health Canada inspected 2,037 packages. Of these, it stopped 1,028 packages from entering the country, and seized 29 additional packages at the border that contained suspected counterfeit or unauthorized health products. The vast majority of the seized products consisted of sexual enhancement medications (72%), followed by weight loss products (14%), hormones (11%) and anti-inflammatory medications (3%).

Health Canada works with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) during Operation Pangea to stop counterfeit and other illegal health products from reaching the Canadian market and to help raise consumer awareness. Health Canada works in partnership with CBSA throughout the year to detect and stop unauthorized health products from entering the country.

What you should do

Related links

INTERPOL news release

Counterfeit prescription drugs

Buying drugs over the Internet

Choosing a safe online pharmacy

How to spot an unsafe online store

Safe use of body building products

Adulteration of natural health products

Buying safe sexual enhancement products

The safe use of health products for weight loss

Health Product InfoWatch – Online pharmacies: Marketing of drugs and medical devices

Additional information

Original published date:
Alert / recall type
Public advisory
Health products - Drugs
Health products - Natural health products
Health products - Medical devices
Published by
Health Canada
General public
Identification number
Media and public enquiries

Health Canada


Public Enquiries



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