In a joint operation, law enforcers recently tracked down 83 websites that were used to distribute illegal and counterfeit medicines, most of which were sexual performance boosters.
In the fifth Pangea Operation from Sept. 25 to Oct. 2, the National Drug and Food Monitoring Agency (BPOM) confiscated unlicensed drugs worth Rp 150 million (US$15,642).
BPOM chairwoman Lucky S. Slamet said on Monday that the agency had requested the Information and Communication Ministry to close down the websites.
"We have found 83 websites that distribute illegal and counterfeit medicines and we have requested the ministry to block them," she told a press conference in Jakarta.
In the crackdown, BPOM seized 66 types of unlicensed and counterfeit drugs, most of which were used for erectile dysfunction, body slimming and to boost female libido.
The agency conducted the operation in Jakarta and Yogyakarta in cooperation with the National Police, the Attorney General's Office (AGO) and the Customs and Excise Office.
Officials posing as potential buyers were able to trace the route of the illicit online trade and found four distributors, three in Jakarta and one in Yogyakarta.
They arrested two suspects and are in the process of bringing four cases to court.
"We hope the sentences can have a deterrent effect on the person being punished and other perpetrators," said Lucky.
Indonesia was one of 100 countries taking part in the fifth Pangea Operation, which was coordinated by the International Criminal Police Organisation (ICPO)-Interpol to root out the illicit internet trade in unlicensed and counterfeit drugs.
When the ICPO-Interpol held the first Pangea Operation in 2008, only eight countries participated. By 2011, a total of 81 countries, including Indonesia, took part in the effort.
In last year's operation, BPOM seized 57 counterfeit drugs, primarily sexual performance enhancers and diet pills, worth Rp 82 million (S$10,500). Two suspects were arrested and two cases were brought to court.
"The dossiers of the two suspects have been handed over to the prosecutors," said Hendri Siswadi, the BPOM's chief of drug and food investigations.
The Information and Communication Ministry's chief of investigations and law enforcement, Aidil Chendramata, said his ministry had yet to receive official requests for the closure of the 83 websites found in this year's operation.
He said that in 2011, his ministry closed down 30 websites that distributed unlicensed and counterfeit medicines.
"We blocked and closed down the websites based on recommendations we received from BPOM. We cannot close down any single website just as we like. We can block and close down the website only if we have a recommendation from the agency," he said.
According Law No. 36/2009 on Health, all products distributed and sold by retailers must have a BPOM product distribution permit.
In previous market surveillance, BPOM revealed that traditional medicines containing illegal substances were widely found in local markets.
As of the first semester of 2012, BPOM had recalled 25 traditional medicines, down from 64 in 2010 and 98 in 2009.