28/06/2013

Over £100k Illegal Medicine Seized

Over £100,000 worth of illegal medicines have been seized in Northern Ireland as part of a coordinated operation between the Department of Health Medicines Regulatory Group and Interpol.

The move was part of a larger, international crackdown on black market medicines. Operation Pangea VI aimed to disrupt the organised crime networks behind the online sale of medicines. It ran from 18 – 25 June 2013.

In Northern Ireland, illegal medicinal products worth over £100,000 were seized.

They included erectile dysfunction and anti-anxiety medicines as well as unidentified psychoactive substances.

Peter Moore, Senior Medicines Enforcement Officer with MRG and coordinator of Operation Pangea VI activities in Northern Ireland said: "This Operation is part of our continuing efforts to reduce the harm that can be caused to the Northern Ireland public by those making use of the internet to commit crime or source their medicines. It is crucial that people realise that it really isn’t worth bypassing the properly regulated system, which is in place to protect the public from the hazards of fake or substandard medicines.

"I urge the public not to be tempted by cut prices or deceived by professional looking websites offering medicines without prescription. Taking short cuts could expose you to a dangerous counterfeit or untested medicine and on top of that you could be the victim of identity theft or credit card fraud."

Professor Mike Mawhinney, Head of the Medicines Regulatory Group (MRG) in the Department of Health added: "This issue is not something which the Department can tackle in isolation. Locally, Operation Pangea VI has involved the Police and the UK Border Force working with Department officers and I thank them for their efforts.

"Medicines obtained through unregulated internet sites may not have been prescribed by a healthcare practitioner, may not have been subject to the normal controls on manufacture and may not be of a suitable quality or be of the nature described."

The results from the global operation include:

- 99 countries and 201 agencies participated.

- 58 arrests.

- Seizure of 9,985,926 potentially life-threatening medicines worth an estimated $41,104,386 million US dollars (approximately £26m).

- 9610 websites identified as engaged in illegal activity were shut down.

- Over 522,000 packages were inspected by regulators and customs authorities. Of these, 58,481 were seized.

(IT/CD)

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