MHRA nets UK record £12.2 million haul of counterfeit and unlicensed medicines

MHRA nets UK record £12.2 million haul of counterfeit and unlicensed medicines

The MHRA have today issued the press release below. This is presented exactly as published and without comment.

Press release

Date: 27 June 2013

Time: 12:00

Subject: MHRA nets UK record £12.2 million haul of counterfeit and unlicensed medicines

Contact: Press Office 020 3080 7651

or press.office@mhra.gsi.gov.uk

Out-of-hours 07770 446 189

The MHRA today announced that it seized a record £12.2 million of counterfeit and unlicensed medicines in the UK. This was part of a week-long international crackdown on the illegal internet trade of medicines that seized over £26.8 million globally.

The crackdown – called Operation Pangea VI - was conducted between 18 June and 25 June and resulted in 58 people being arrested worldwide. This operation has also resulted in 9, 610 illegal online websites that were selling counterfeit and unlicensed medicines being closed down or suspended through domain name or payment facility removal.

Coordinated by INTERPOL and carried out by 99 countries across the globe, the operation targeted the three main elements misused in the illegal website trade – the internet infrastructure, the electronic payment system and the mail delivery service.

Internationally, preliminary results show that more than 522,000 packages were inspected by regulators and customs officials resulting in the seizure of over £9.9 million doses of unlicensed and counterfeit medicines worth approximately £26.8 million.

In the United Kingdom, enforcement officers from the MHRA, with assistance from the Home Office UK Border Force and local police, raided addresses in connection with the illegal internet supply of medicines.

This activity resulted in more than 3.7 million doses of unlicensed medicines worth approximately £12.2 million, including 97,500 doses of counterfeit pills being seized in the UK worth £525,000. The types of medicines the MHRA found were those for slimming, hair loss and erectile dysfunction.

The MHRA’s Acting Head of Enforcement, Nimo Ahmed, said: “During one week we have seized £12.2 million worth of counterfeit and unlicensed medicines. These were being stored in unacceptable conditions and supplied through illegal internet websites without prescriptions by people who are not qualified to dispense medicines.

“When people buy medicines from an illegal website they don’t know what they’re getting, where it came from or if it’s safe to take. The dose could be too high or too low, or the ingredients could break down incorrectly in the body which makes the medicine ineffective. They could also become victims of credit card or identity fraud as well as downloading computer viruses.

“We have closed down 1288 of these illegal websites but people need to take the time to see their GP about any problems they have with their health. People are far more likely to get better faster if they are on the correct course of safely prescribed medication.”

This year’s closure of illegal websites follows on from last year when approximately 18,000 illegal pharmacy websites were shut down through domain name or payment facility removal.

A representative from Home Office UK Border force said: “The work carried out by Border Force officers as part of this joint operation makes clear just how seriously we take the smuggling of fake and unlicensed medicines.

“Smugglers are only out to make a profit. These goods are often dangerous and the proceeds can be used to fund serious organised crime.”

The Royal Pharmaceutical Society’s Neal Patel, said: “It is hugely worrying that prescription medicines are available from illicit websites. This is a serious patient safety issue.

“Not only is supplying prescription only medicines without a prescription illegal, it means that the user has no information about the ingredients, dosage instructions, or potential side effects, so patients would not be receiving proper healthcare advice.

“We would urge the public if they wish to buy medicines online to always check that they are dealing with a genuine pharmacy.”

If someone suspects their medicine may be counterfeit, contact the MHRA’s designated 24-hour anti-counterfeiting hotline on 020 3080 6701 or counterfeit@mhra.gsi.gov.uk.

The release is available online and as a downloadable PDF from:

mhra.gov.uk/NewsCentre/Pres...

Rod

5 Replies

oldestnewest
  • >The types of medicines the MHRA found were those for slimming, hair loss and erectile dysfunction.

    Usual suspects!

  • What often gives me a bit of a chuckle is considering the values they assign to the products. If the medicines are fake and are actually chalk, what is their value?

    (I know this is my own deliberate mis-understanding.)

    Rod

  • I am making some assumptions here but I'm reading it as people were buying from abroad and then selling on, from the UK, illegally without prescription.

    I've only just seen this and I am a little confused about this part...

    “Not only is supplying prescription only medicines without a prescription illegal, it means that the user has no information about the ingredients, dosage instructions, or potential side effects, so patients would not be receiving proper healthcare advice.

    I presume that applies to people in the UK supplying without prescription and that it doesn't apply to overseas internet companies. As I understand it, it is still legal to import for your own personal use. Please correct me if I am wrong. All this legal stuff is a bit of a mine-field!

    This bit made me laugh (in an ironic sort of way);

    "... People are far more likely to get better faster if they are on the correct course of safely prescribed medication.”

    I have not had good experiences with doctors over recent years and can't remember the time I received a "correct course" of treatment!

    I believe T3 is used for slimming and by body builders who mistakenly believe it will increase their lean body mass and reduce body fat percentage. I suppose that comes under the "slimming" label.

    Thanks for posting it :)

  • Carolyn,

    Exactly that - lockup garages with boxes full and being sold on dodgy sites. (Some of those sites might look as if they are abroad but are actually here in the UK.)

    It is the "supply" which makes it an issue. You are quite right that, other than controlled drugs, there is no problem with persona import.

    I so agree with you about the irony!

    I think that T3 might be used to help reduce water content so the skin gets thin and tight. Some of the discussions I have seen, it is amazing we do not hear of dozens (or more) killing themselves every year. They are into not only T3 - but stacking that with goodness knows what else. (I think that means taking multiple things, possibly in special combinations or timings, in an attempt to achieve the required results.)

    Rod

  • It is crazy. These body builders don't seem to realise that they are actually reducing their lean mass and therefore their metabolism and fat burning capacity. Whatever happened to good old hard work?

    Some of them take things like HCG, clenbuterol, diuretics, stimulants and androgenic steroids. I find this very strange for people aiming for the perfect body and, purely from a subjective point of view, I think their bodies are far from perfect! I occasionally peruse bodybuilding forums for info on training for karate. I try to avoid the threads about the weird stuff but sometimes the odd one gets through.

You may also like...