30/09/2011

Illegal Medicines Seized Across Ireland

Counterfeit medicines have been seized from the post in the Irish Republic after a week long international operation that also saw £150,000 of medicines seized in Northern Ireland.

The Irish Medicines Board, Customs and Gardaí recovered over 51,600 counterfeit and illegal medicines worth €150,000 in a bid to clamp down on the Internet sale of illegal medicines.

Tablets, capsules and creams were seized when 492 packages were detained by Customs in Ireland.

Most of the substances were for weight loss, erectile dysfunction or were mood stabilisers.

Other substances found were steroids, antibiotics, painkillers, cardiac medicines, cholesterol lowering products, cancer medicines and insulin.

In NI, drugs worth £150,000 have also been seized during a parallel operation targeting the online sale of similar counterfeit and illegal medicines including steroids, mephedrone, pain relief injections and diazepam.

More than 150 packages were intercepted destined for addresses throughout Northern Ireland.
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Stormont Health Minister Edwin Poots said the primary goal of the operation was to protect the public: "It is vital that we get the message across that when you purchase medicines from an illegal supplier online, you just don't know what you are taking," he said.

Over 80 countries took part in Operation Pangea IV which saw £5m of drugs recovered worldwide and 13,000 websites closed down.

The initiative was part of an international week of action co-ordinated by Interpol and involved over 80 countries.

About 1.2 million suspect doses were discovered during the operation as a whole.

More than £5 million-worth of unlicensed pharmaceuticals were found across the globe and it is being hailed as the "largest operation of its kind".

Seizures relating to the industry in Britain have risen sixfold over the past year, according to figures from the Medicines and Healthcare Regulatory Agency.

The Interpol-led operation, which concluded on Tuesday also came after two English schoolgirls were admitted to hospital with heart problems caused by weight loss pills bought online.

(LB/BMcC)

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