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MHRA raids net illegal drugs worth £8.6m

The MHRA joined forces with the Home Office and local police to raid local homes and arrest five individuals in connection with the illegal online supply of medicines

The MHRA has seized more than £8 million worth of counterfeit and unlicensed drugs in a week-long crackdown on the illegal sale of medicines.

The "huge" £8.6m haul included "potentially harmful" slimming pills as well as controlled drugs such as diazepam and anabolic steroids, the UK medicines watchdog said.

As part of the operation, which took place from May 11 to 21, MHRA enforcement officers joined forces with the Home Office's Border Force and local police to raid homes and arrest five individuals in connection with the illegal online supply of medicines.

The MHRA arrested five individuals in connection with the illegal online supply of medicines

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The seizures formed part of Operation Pangea, the seventh annual global crackdown coordinated by Interpol, which resulted in 237 arrests, £18.6m worth of seizures and more than 10,000 websites being targeted worldwide, the MHRA said.

The medicines watchdog said it seized 3.6 million doses of unlicensed and counterfeit medicines in the UK, including 1.2 million doses of erectile dysfunction drugs, more than 383,000 slimming products and more than 330,000 doses of "powerful and often misused drugs" such as sleeping pills, tranquilisers and antidepressants.

Seventy two per cent of the medicine packages had arrived in the UK from India, with 11 per cent being sent from China, the MHRA said.

MHRA head of enforcement Alastair Jeffrey said the drugs had been found in "appalling conditions, such as a dirty, old building with broken windows [and] medicines lying on the floor in bin bags".

As well as shutting down nearly 1,900 UK websites, it was the first year the MHRA targeted YouTube accounts. The watchdog had removed nearly 19,000 videos since last year's operation, in response to a growing trend for criminals to use social media to illegally sell medicines, it said.

Earlier this month, the MHRA warned the public against using "potentially dangerous" Asian herbal remedies after they were found to contain undeclared prescription-only medicines and heavy metals.

Have you been offered counterfeit or unlicensed drugs?
We want to hear your views, but please express them in the spirit of a constructive, professional debate. For more information about what this means, please click here to see our community principles and information

Farmer Cyst, Community pharmacist

As usual the AAH and Alliance media machine springs into life demonising the smaller suppliers.

Well I'm sorry but I can buy genuine Vieagra or Lirica with the correct Fizer hologram on it for a fifth of the price these crooks are charging for it. The bloke selling the stuff must be doing O.K too, when he was unloading the boxes from his boot I notice he had a private plate on his 3-Series and his tracksuit looked premium. Some of the guys at the top of Alliance and AAH must get a new pair of trainers every week!

Samuel Jacobs, Community pharmacist

From my information, ALL internet pharmacy suppliers use questionable sources or procurement. It is this activity that should be investigated and all such suppliers shut down.

If you have such information, you need to report it to the relevant bodies so that they can be investigated. This can be painstaking, but it is worthwhile.

Gerry Diamond, Primary care pharmacist

This needs to be commended for safeguarding the supply pathways for legitimate drugs and protecting the public. Also, we need more resources to tackle this type of activity too.

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