28 June 2013
Medsafe Warns of the Dangers of Purchasing Medicines over the Internet
Medsafe is warning about the dangers of buying medicines online following a joint Medsafe and Customs crackdown on
substandard, illegal or counterfeit medicines.
Medsafe Manager Compliance Management Derek Fitzgerald.says prescription medicines purchased online are risky because
quality, safety and effectiveness can’t be guaranteed.
Prescription medicines are potent substances and as such should only be used following a consultation with a doctor.
Medsafe and Customs participated in the week-long Operation PANGEA VI led by INTERPOL (June 18 - 25). This is the sixth
time New Zealand authorities have participated.
Customs targets all incoming international mail suspected to contain medicines, and thousands of interceptions are
referred to Medsafe each year.
As a result of Operation PANGEA VI, 298 packages were held requiring further investigation, more than double the number
investigated last year (124).
These parcels originated from 32 different countries around the world (21 last year) and were stopped because they
contained prescription medicines, weren’t labelled or were known to contain undeclared or hidden ingredients. The most
common sources of these products were India (79), USA (59) and China (30).
Mr Fitzgerald says unlabelled medicines were the most prevalent products examined by Medsafe (8774 individual tablets).
Medicines for weight loss, diabetes and insomnia were the next most prevalent. Only one parcel contained a counterfeit
or fake product - the same as last year.
Medsafe strongly encourages anyone intending to buy prescription medicines via the internet to consult their doctor who
can advise on potential side effects, interactions with other medicines and appropriate dosage.
Prescription medicines are referred to Medsafe by Customs to ensure compliance with New Zealand law. Most prescription
medicines Medsafe detains are held until the importer provides a valid doctor’s prescription - if this does not occur
they are destroyed.