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‘Powerful and dangerous’ illicit medicines seized in Manchester raids

“Hundreds of thousands of doses” of suspected illegally traded drugs were seized by the UK’s medicines watchdog in Manchester this week.

A man was arrested and “hundreds of thousands of doses” of “illicit” medicines were seized in four raids in Manchester on Wednesday morning (November 29), according to the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA).

The MHRA said on the day of the operation that its criminal enforcement unit (CEU) alongside the Greater Manchester Police had raided two residences in Oldham and Cheetham and two businesses in Bury and Miles Platting “in the early hours” of the morning.

Read more: Illegally traded drugs worth ‘almost’ £5m seized in 2023, says MHRA

The watchdog said that it seized “powerful” prescription-only medicines (POMs), including opioids, antidepressants and “unlicensed versions” of erectile dysfunction (ED) medications. The MHRA added that it suspects the medications had been “illegally traded”.

And a man “in his 20s” was arrested at one of the residential addresses under suspicion of conspiracy to supply controlled drugs and money laundering, among other charges, it said.

Andy Morling, the MHRA’s deputy director of criminal enforcement, warned that the seized medicines could be “powerful and dangerous” if they fell into the wrong hands.

Read more: Suspended sentence for illegal POM dealers found with 1.3m pills

“The criminals trading in these products are not only breaking the law, they also have no regard for your safety,” he said.

Detective chief inspector Jen Kelly of the Greater Manchester Police said that “over 1.5 million” tablets had been seized this year in the course of “Operation Vulcan” operations with the CEU, its “dedicated partner”.

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

Ms Kelly said that Operation Vulcan was “helping to tackle” the supply of illegal prescription medications in north Manchester’s Cheetham Hill area.

She noted that Wednesday morning’s operations was “an opportunity” to support the CEU “in turn”.

 

More seizures this year

 

Last month, the MHRA revealed that it had seized more than two million medicine doses that had been traded illegally over the internet in 2023.

In the year to date, Operation Pangea had succeeded in confiscating  illegal medicines worth “almost” £5m in the UK, including “antidepressants, pain medication and human growth hormones”, the watchdog said.

Read more: Botox and fillers: ‘Thousands’ of unlicensed meds seized in Bolton raids

In September, a Berkshire couple was convicted for illegal possession and intent to supply unlicensed medicines worth £1.6 million, after a raid on their home on November 18 2020 by Thames Valley Police and the MHRA’s criminal enforcement unit found more than 1.3 million pills from 65 different brands.

And in July, officers from the MHRA and Greater Manchester Police conducted morning raids in Greater Manchester that saw officers seize “thousands of unlicensed medical products”, including Botox and dermal fillers.

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