Information update

Operation Pangea highlights the dangers of buying health products online

Starting date:
June 9, 2016
Type of communication:
Information Update
Drugs, Medical Device, Natural health products
Source of recall:
Health Canada
Important Safety Information, Unauthorized products
General Public
Identification number:


As part of Health Canada's ongoing commitment to help protect the health and safety of Canadians, the department again partnered with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, the Canada Border Services Agency and the International Criminal Police Organization (INTERPOL) for the ninth consecutive year of Operation Pangea.

Operation Pangea is a global effort to disrupt the online sale of counterfeit and unlicensed pharmaceutical products and medical devices. It focuses on stopping illegal health products from reaching the Canadian market. Activities included border blitzes, compliance verification of websites selling health products to Canadians and education and outreach activities.

This year's operation took place from May 30-June 7, 2016 and was the largest of its kind so far. 103 countries and 193 police, customs, and health regulatory agencies participated worldwide and resulted in a record number of illicit and counterfeit health products being seized. Health Canada inspected 4,227 packages, refused 2,576 packages and seized 1,283 packages containing counterfeit or unlicensed health products at the border during this week of action.

Among the health products seized or refused during this year's operation were unauthorized weight loss and sexual enhancement products, and an unauthorized hair removal device.. The vast majority of these, 98%, were sexual enhancement products that were either fake or unauthorized.

Health Canada has previously communicated on the risk of buying drugs, natural health products or medical devices online. When Health Canada identifies or is advised of Internet sites selling illegal health products, the Department takes action to protect the health and safety of Canadians.

The results of this year's Operation Pangea are a reminder that you may be putting your health at risk by buying health products online. Health products available online may look like the products you use every day but they may not have been reviewed by Health Canada for safety, quality and effectiveness. They may contain hidden ingredients not listed on the label, dangerous additives and/or contaminated ingredients. In addition, they may lack the active ingredients Canadians would expect them to contain to help maintain and improve their health. For all of these reasons, they could cause serious health effects.

The website contains information about illegal health products that have been found on the Canadian market. Stay connected with Health Canada and receive the latest advisories and product recalls using social media tools.

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