Smuggling of fake medicine into Israel foiled as part of international operation

The successful operation was part of an international effort led by Interpol, Europol, the World Customs Organization and the World Health Organization.

 An ultra-orthodox haredi Jewish man shops for medicine at the local pharmacy in Tzfat, Northern Israel (photo credit: David Cohen/Flash90)
An ultra-orthodox haredi Jewish man shops for medicine at the local pharmacy in Tzfat, Northern Israel
(photo credit: David Cohen/Flash90)

Israeli Health Ministry and Tax Authority officials have thwarted the smuggling of dozens of counterfeit medication and pill shipments, the ministry said on Tuesday.

The successful operation was part of an international effort led by Interpol, Europol, the World Customs Organization and the World Health Organization to eradicate the illegal circulation of counterfeit, contaminated or mislabeled medicine

The operation

Thirty-three packages containing medicine that required examination by a pharmacist were delayed and probed, most at customs inspection sites and Israel Post's logistics center in Modi'in, where 20 packages with a total of 4,519 units of male enhancement gel were confiscated.

 Travelers seen at the arrival hall of Ben Gurion International Airport, near Tel Aviv, on April 11, 2018 (credit: MOSHE SHAI/FLASH90) Travelers seen at the arrival hall of Ben Gurion International Airport, near Tel Aviv, on April 11, 2018 (credit: MOSHE SHAI/FLASH90)

In addition to the male enhancement products suspected to be counterfeit, some of the fake medicine uncovered included injections of a substance falsely claiming to be botox, a mixture of unlabeled pills and weight loss drugs, and nutritional supplements that contained an active medicinal substance.

Most of the shipments arrived from Turkey, Jordan and India, the Health Ministry said.

The illegal fake medicine industry

These shipments often claim to contain medications described as "organic." However, the ministry warned, the medicine can include psychoactive substances which, if consumed, can lead to hospitalization.

There are many illegal websites dealing in the sale and distribution of counterfeit medicine of unknown origins, it said, usually stored in improper conditions.

Details of the operation were sent to the international database of counterfeit medication smuggling.