WASHINGTON, D.C.—In a continuing effort to combat the growing threat of counterfeit pharmaceuticals, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) in 2011 partnered with customs agencies from the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) to target counterfeit pharmaceuticals in mail and express carrier shipments. This enforcement partnership dubbed Operation APEC resulted in enforcement actions against more than 1,200 shipments of illegal pharmaceuticals.
Operation APEC started in March and ran through November which included a 10 day enforcement operation at select express carrier and international mail facilities in June and July. CBP officers examined more than 3,000 shipments during the operation, and seized 441 shipments of illegal pharmaceuticals, of which 99 shipments were seized for intellectual property rights (IPR) infringement.
'The trend in shipping patterns, for infringing merchandise, has shifted to international mail and express packages. In the past five years, we have seen these types of seizures increase by more than 80 percent,' said Assistant Commissioner Allen Gina, CBP Office of International Trade. "Through international partnerships such as this one, we are able to combat the global threat of dangerous and counterfeit goods, including pharmaceuticals."
The domestic value of the 99 shipments seized for IPR infringement was more than $191,000. If the trademarks had been genuine, the manufacturer's suggested retail price would have been more than $231,000. The types of drugs CBP seized included weight loss supplements, erectile dysfunction drugs, and pain medications.
During the operation, APEC customs authorities took enforcement actions against more than 1,200 shipments in the Asia Pacific region.
The proposal for Operation APEC was presented by CBP at the March meeting of the APEC Sub-Committee on Customs Procedures. The proposal to conduct a mutual enforcement operation garnered immediate support. The APEC economies that participated in this enforcement partnership were China, Chinese Taipei, Hong Kong China, Japan, the Republic of Korea, Malaysia, Mexico, Peru, Singapore, Thailand, and the U.S.
A final report on Operation APEC was finalized at the end of November and has resulted in the development of model practices that can guide customs authorities in combating fakes at international mail and express carrier facilities.