The UK Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) has seized more than one million doses of fake medicines with a combined worth of nearly £2m.

The crackdown on counterfeit medicines and medical devices is part of the Operation Pangea initiative coordinated by Interpol, which initially teamed up with 29 pharmaceutical companies in March 2013 to tackle this type of fraud.

Items in the haul seized 9-17 October by the MHRA and UK partners were fake and unlicensed medicines such as diazepam, modafinil and dermal fillers, as well as medical devices.

Arrests have occurred at a semi-detached property and a small lock-up unit raided by MHRA enforcement officers upon receiving intelligence on illegal drug trade online.

In addition, police in the north of England raided multiple properties as part of an Interpol-coordinated international response to increasing illegal online supply of medicines and medical devices.

“This is just the tip of the iceberg, and we will continue to take action against known criminals.”

When the team searched airports and mail delivery centres, several packages with illegal consignments of medicines and medical devices were discovered.

Officers also closed 123 websites offering falsified and unlicensed medical products on the open and dark web. In addition, they removed a further 535 online adverts for these illegal items.

MHRA Enforcement head Alastair Jeffrey said: “Criminals who sell medicines over the internet have absolutely no regard for your health and taking medicine, which is either falsified or unlicensed, puts you at risk of serious harm.

“Our intelligence-led enforcement operations have seized millions of counterfeit and unlicensed medicines and devices in the UK. This is just the tip of the iceberg, and we will continue to take action against known criminals, working with our international partners to stop illegal medicines from entering the UK.”

So far, operation Pangea has resulted in 859 arrests globally across 116 countries.