Suspended sentence for illegal POM dealers found with 1.3m pills
A Berkshire couple has been convicted for illegal possession and intent to supply unlicensed medicines worth £1.6 million, the MHRA has announced.
A couple found with medicines worth £1.6m have been sentenced to eight months imprisonment suspended for 18 months and 150 hours of unpaid work, the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) said last week (September 8) .
Karina Filimonova, 36, and Andrejs Stolarovs, 32, of Kidwells Close in Maidenhead were found with more than 1.3 million pills from 65 different brands and arrested during a raid on their home on November 18 2020 by Thames Valley Police and the MHRA’s criminal enforcement unit, it added.
According to Andy Morling, MHRA deputy director of criminal enforcement, the couple had been illegally importing the medicines from Singapore and India to ship “across the country” and overseas as part of a “sophisticated operation”.
ED, hair loss and obesity pills
The unlicensed drugs found in the couple’s possession, including prescription only medicines (POMs), were for a range of conditions such as sexual dysfunction, infertility, obesity, acne, alcohol and opioid dependence, narcolepsy/ADHD, breast cancer and HIV, the MHRA said.
They included erectile dysfunction pills sildenafil, vardenafil, avanafil and tadalafil, finasteride hair loss pills, narcolepsy and ADHD pills modafinil, armodafinil and amphetamine/dextroamphetamine, antibiotic doxycycline and orlistat obesity pills, it added.
The drugs were “estimated to be worth £1.6m on the illegal market”, it said.
A spokesperson for the MHRA confirmed that the couple were selling the products online but could not disclose the name of the website.
“Suspicious parcel activity”
The couple pleaded guilty to “possession and intent to supply medicinal products contrary to the Human Medicines Regulations 2012” at Southwark Crown Court on June 13, according to the MHRA.
They each received eight months imprisonment suspended for 18 months and 150 hours unpaid work last week (September 7), it said.
In 2020, the MHRA received information about parcels containing “unlicensed medicines”, after packages were seized during a Royal Mail Group investigation into “suspicious parcel activity”, it added.
The agency launched an investigation, which culminated in the arrest and subsequent sentencing of Ms Filimonova and Mr Stolarovs.
POM to P-enal
It follows a spate of similar incidents over the last few months.
In July, C+D reported that large quantities of unlicensed medical products such as Botox and dermal fillers were seized in “a morning of raids” across the Greater Manchester area.
Officers from the MHRA and Greater Manchester Police found unlicensed versions of Botox, numbing agents and dermal fillers in three residential and four business premises in Bolton, Westhoughton and Leigh.
In June, a man was jailed for five years after he illegally sold more than £2m in prescription medication from a website, including “over 23,000 sleeping pills”, following investigations that began in 2015 by the MHRA’s criminal enforcement unit.
In May, a man claiming to have pharmacy qualifications was also convicted for making “fake” benzodiazepine drugs in a secret lab for sale on the “dark web”.
And in April, C+D reported that the General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) had suspended a pharmacist for 12 months for the illegal wholesale supply of almost two million tablets of prescription drugs.
It comes after the MHRA vowed in August last year to “take appropriate action” against “dozens” of illegal websites posing as online pharmacies that sold prescription-only medication, reportedly uncovered by a media investigation.