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MHRA cracks down on Polish drugs market

Business The MHRA is cracking down on the sale of unlicensed drugs in the UK, after Polish shopkeepers were caught selling a range of medicines, including antibiotics, from eastern Europe.

The MHRA is cracking down on the sale of unlicensed drugs in the UK, after Polish shopkeepers were caught selling a range of medicines, including antibiotics, from eastern Europe.


The UK medicines watchdog revealed last week (February 7) that it had investigated 74 cases last year in which Polish shopkeepers were selling medicines, including prescription-only and pharmacy drugs, not licensed for use in the UK.


The majority of the unlicensed medicines from Poland and other eastern European countries were GSL products such as cough and cold remedies and paracetamol, the MHRA said. However, the antibiotics amoxicillin and ampicillin, as well as ibuprofen and codeine products, were also sold, the medicines watchdog told C+D.


The MHRA has issued  guidance for Polish shopkeepers and Polish patients living in the UK, setting out UK regulatory requirements for medicines

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The MHRA said it was working with the Polish medicines regulator to tackle the problem and had produced guidance for Polish shopkeepers and Polish patients living in the UK, which sets out UK regulatory requirements for medicines.


"Polish medicines imported into the UK and sold in Polish language packs have not been approved for sale in the UK and cannot be traded lawfully on the UK market," said MHRA acting head of enforcement Nimo Ahmed.


"We urge people not to take these medicines. There are also specific health concerns with certain medicines that should be prescribed and dispensed under the supervision of a healthcare professional, such as a doctor or a pharmacist," he added.


Medicines that are licensed only in other European countries cannot be sold in the UK unless they have a prior MHRA parallel import licence or a parallel distribution notification has been obtained for its supply. Those caught selling unlicensed medicines face two years in prison and/or an unlimited fine.


What more should be done to prevent the unlicensed sale of drugs in the UK?

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