Operation Pangea XI reinforces the dangers of buying unauthorized health products online
- Starting date:
- October 23, 2018
- Type of communication:
- Information Update
- Drugs, Medical Device, Natural health products
- Source of recall:
- Health Canada
- Identification number:
October 23, 2018
For immediate release
OTTAWA – As part of Operation Pangea XI, Health Canada is reminding Canadians of the dangers of buying unauthorized health products online.
While many health product websites are lawful businesses, some sell products that may present serious health risks. If you buy health products over the Internet, it is important to know the risks and to take steps to protect yourself and your family.
While health products sold online may look legitimate, you may have no way of knowing where they were manufactured, what is in them, or if they have been approved by Health Canada and assessed for safety, effectiveness and quality. You may get fake or unauthorized products with no active ingredients, the wrong ingredients, or dangerous additives (such as prescription drugs not listed on the label). Unlicensed medical devices purchased over the Internet may be low quality, may not work, or may not be safe.
Now in its eleventh year, Operation Pangea is an international effort to disrupt the online sale of fake and unlicensed health products around the world. As part of this effort, Health Canada works with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) and the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) to stop illegal and counterfeit health products from reaching the Canadian market, and to warn Canadians about the risks of buying unauthorized health products over the internet.
This year’s operation took place from October 9 to 16, 2018. The illegal products that Health Canada seized or refused at Canada’s borders included unauthorized and suspected counterfeit sexual enhancement products (50% of products seized, most of which were for erectile dysfunction) as well as health products for gastrointestinal and prostate support.
Health Canada works with its partners throughout the year to detect and stop non-compliant health products from entering the country. When Health Canada identifies unauthorized products that may pose serious health risks, the Department takes appropriate action. This includes working with the CBSA to help prevent further importation of these products.
What you should do
Health Canada reminds Canadians to follow these important tips if considering buying health products online:
- Look for health products that have been authorized by Health Canada. Authorized health products have an eight-digit Drug Identification Number (DIN), Natural Product Number (NPN) or Homeopathic Medicine Number (DIN-HM). Consumers can also check whether products have been authorized for sale by searching Health Canada's Drug Product Database, Licensed Natural Health Product Database or Medical Devices Active Licence Listing (MDALL).
- Avoid buying health products from questionable websites. If you have questions about whether an Internet pharmacy is legitimate, contact the pharmacy regulatory authority in your province or territory.
- Read the information Health Canada has posted on the risks of buying drugs, natural health products or medical devices online if you are considering buying health products over the Internet.
- Check Health Canada’s Recalls and Safety Alerts database for advisories on illegal health products that have been found on the Canadian market.
- Report adverse events, or complaints involving medical devices or other health products, including illegal health products, to Health Canada.
- INTERPOL news release
- RCMP news release
- Online pharmacies (NAPRA)
- Risks of shopping online
- Counterfeit prescription drugs
- Buying drugs over the Internet
- Adulteration of natural health products
- Buying medical devices from the Internet
- Risks of buying natural health products online
- The safe use of health products for weight loss
- Unauthorized health products may pose serious health risks