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Man who made millions from illegally selling POMs online jailed for five years

Kieron Banks has been jailed for five years after he illegally sold more than £2 million in prescription medication from a website, the medicines watchdog announced yesterday.

A West Midlands man who sold prescription medication online was yesterday (June 5) sentenced to five years in prison by the Nightingale Court in Wolverhampton, the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) said.

Kieron Banks, 34, was found to be associated with a website that was illegally selling prescription-only medicines (POMs) following investigations that began in 2015 by the MHRA’s criminal enforcement unit, the watchdog added.

Mr Banks, of Marshall Crescent in Kingswinfold, was arrested at home in 2016 by the MHRA unit and West Midlands Police, where he was found with “over 23,000 sleeping pills”, according to the MHRA.

Read more: Pharmacy assistant lands jail sentence after stealing £330k from employer

The MHRA and police found evidence in “various digital devices and financial documents” during Mr Banks’ arrest that showed that he had received over £2m from selling these medications, it said. 

The pills found in the raid were Actavis zopiclone, Mylan zolpidem and Teva zolpidem tartrate, according to the MHRA, and packaging was found that came from pharmacy manager David Ihenagawa, who was previously jailed for six years.

Read more: Man convicted for making ‘fake’ drugs in secret lab for sale on ‘dark web’

In January 2020, son of a pharmacy owner Mr Ihenagawa, then 40, was sentenced to six years in prison at the Croydon Crown Court for “offences of supplying class B and class C controlled drugs”, the MHRA said at the time.

Mr Ihenagawa, of Edmonton in north London, was “using his mother’s east London pharmacy as a criminal enterprise” and had sold medicines on “at least 23 separate occasions” to a criminal “gang” who shipped them around the country, it added.

 

“Ill-gotten gains”

 

Mr Banks was charged by the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) and found guilty of the “illegal possession and intent to supply prescription-only medication valued at over £2m” on January 27, the MHRA said.

CPS special prosecutor Ben Reid said that Mr Banks “sold large amounts of drugs for significant amounts of money” and was not professionally qualified to do so. 

Read more: Pharmacist slapped with 12-month suspension for illegal supply of 2m pills

He “was willing to sell controlled drugs to anyone who was willing to pay the right price, without having the professional qualifications to do so” and although he “knew they were potentially addictive and could have harmful side effects…that did not stop him”, Mr Reid added.

“Over a million pounds went through his bank accounts and he boasted to others about huge profit margins,” he said, adding that the CPS would be looking to seize Mr Banks’ “ill-gotten gains” using the Proceeds of Crime Act.

Read more: UK gang members jailed for part in illegal sale of prescription meds worth £3.7m

Mr Banks was sentenced alongside a co-defendant, Anita Rama, 45, who was found guilty on separate charges “for the illegal supply and sale of prescription medication valued at £184,000”, the MHRA said.

These included diazepam for anxiety, zopiclone sleeping pills and erectile dysfunction meds sildenafil, tadalafil and dapoxetine, it added.

Ms Rama, of Wolverhampton, received 12 months imprisonment suspended for 18 months, 60 hours of unpaid work and 15 hours of rehabilitation activities, it said.

Read more: Pharmacist struck off for illegitimate codeine supply after threats to family

The news follows a spate of incidents regarding the illegal sale of prescription medicines, which most recently saw a man claiming to have pharmacy qualifications convicted for making “fake” drugs in a secret lab for sale on the “dark web”.

In August last year, the MHRA vowed to “take appropriate action” against “dozens” of illegal websites posing as online pharmacies that sold prescription-only medication, reportedly uncovered by a media investigation.

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