Nominet suspends fake pharma domains
Global pill crackdown pops 13,000 sites
Nominet, the .uk address registry, has suspended hundreds of internet domain names as part of a global police crackdown on crime gangs peddling fake pharmaceuticals.
Operation Pangea IV saw almost 13,500 websites taken down and dozens of suspects arrested in 81 countries, according to Interpol, which coordinated the swoop.
Over 2.4 million potentially harmful counterfeit pills, worth about £4m, were seized in raids between 20 and 27 of September, Interpol said. Confiscated medicines included everything from diet pills to anti-cancer drugs.
Cops worked with customs agencies, ISPs, payment processors and delivery companies to close down the allegedly criminal operations, Interpol said.
In the UK, Nominet acted upon advice given by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency and the Police Central e-Crime Unit to suspend about 500 .uk domains, according to director of operations Eleanor Bradley.
While the domains were not "seized" as some have been in the US in recent months, suspending a domain stops it from resolving, essentially shutting down the associated website.
Bradley said that Nominet worked with its registrar partners to shut down the domains, which were all in "clear breach" of either Nominet's or the registrar's terms and conditions.
"If we didn't think it was in specific breach of our terms of conditions, we would take no action against the domain name," Bradley said.
As it has on previous occasions, Nominet was able to shut down the addresses because their owners had provided bogus contact information for the Whois records, in violation of the registration agreement.
Nominet is also in the late stages of a policy development process that will formalise the ways in which law enforcement agencies can ask for domain names to be taken down, without a court order if they are believed to be hosting criminal content.
The process could be completed, and a policy implemented, before the end of the year. A Nominet working group recently held a period of public comment before finalising its recommendations.
It is not currently clear whether domain registries in other countries also cooperated with their local law enforcement agencies as part of Pangea IV, or whether police worked with web hosting providers instead.
A spokesperson for VeriSign, the registry for .com and .net, which has previously enabled the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency to seize domains under court order, could not confirm or deny the company's involvement in the crackdown in time for this article's publication. ®
Fake? or only "Potentially fake"?
There are sites that keep the money and supply nothing. There may be sites that supply slightly remoulded and coloured rabbit droppings.
There are also sites that supply genuine, effective drugs manufactured in one of the countries in the world that doesn't worry too much about patents and royalties. These sites may, or may not, be guilty of something, but "fake or potentially fake" is hogwash.
Potentially damaging to the profits of big companies is more like the truth.
Root out the criminals, by all means --- but let the world have its cheap viagra!
And no, I don't have any personal interest: I live in one of the aforementioned countries, and if I wanted to buy, I'd only need to stroll as far as my local pharmacy. It probably wouldn't be blue, it definitely wouldn't say "pfizer," but I have no doubt that it would contain the right amount of the right chemical.
Bracing myself for the downvotes. After all, the profitability of multinational pharma is the *important* thing, eh?
If your local pharma claims it's Viagra, then yes it is fake
If you went down to your local pharmacy asked for 'Viagra' and got a pill containing Sildenafil Citrate, that trader is guilty of passing-off.
If they said something like "We don't have Viagra, but this contains Sildenafil Citrate which is the active ingredient in Viagra", then it's genuine.
- The manufacturer may be infringing a patent or licensing agreement depending on the local laws (usually a matter for the civil courts), however the retailer is fine.
Much like a bartender can't give you Pepsi if you asked for Coke without saying "Is Pepsi ok?" or similar - letting you know that you're being offered a close approximation instead of the product you asked for. (If you ask for cola then they can give you any cola drink)
Passing-off is a very serious thing - if you went down to your local shop and bought a "Blackberry" mobile phone that turned out to be an iPhone, you may well be annoyed. Even though they're both smartphones, they are very different to many consumers.
Therefore the trader must always describe the product for what it is!
- If a customer asks for a particular item, the trader may offer what they think is an equivalent but must describe it as being an equivalent.
I don't hate big pharma
I'd be dead without it might be an exaggeration, but it has certainly done me a heap of good over the years.
However, everything you say about your Eastern European criminals might well be true of the so-called-respectable purveyors too.
There are many sides to this question. For a start, I have to admit that, without mnc pharmaceuticals, many of these chemicals might never have been discovered in the first place. And then again, we have to look at some of their ethics as regards testing and side effects.
"Hatred" --- using words like that, when I had never expressed any, is just a manipulative trick of argument. Invalid and irrelevant. And recognised. You didn't get away with it.