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MHRA seizes record £12m haul of unlicensed and counterfeit drugs

Counterfeits The MHRA has seized a record haul of £12.2 million in counterfeit and unlicensed drugs in the UK as part of a week-long international crackdown on the online illegal sale of medicines.

The MHRA has seized a record haul of £12.2 million-worth of counterfeit and unlicensed drugs in the UK as part of a week-long international crackdown on the online illegal sale of medicines.


The medicines watchdog's enforcement officers worked with the UK border force and local police to raid addresses and confiscate more than 3.7m doses of unlicensed medicines, including counterfeit pills for slimming, hair loss and erectile dysfunction.


The UK accounted for more than half of counterfeit medicines seized in value, with more than 1,288 illegal websites closed down and seven warrants issued for arrest.


The MHRA and other authorites swooped to seize more than 3.7m doses of unlicensed medicines, including counterfeit pills for slimming, hair loss and erectile dysfunction

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The international operation, which ran from June 18 to 25, was co-ordinated by Interpol across 99 countries and resulted in 58 people being arrested and 9,610 illegal websites being closed down. Customs officials around the world also inspected more than 522,000 packages and seized more than 9.9m doses of unlicensed and counterfeit medicines, worth approximately £26.8m.

The annual operation, which is now in its sixth year, targeted the sale of medicines through illegal websites by focusing on the electronic payment systems, the mail delivery services and the internet infrastructure used by counterfeiters.


Members of the public were playing "Russian roulette" if they decided to buy medicines from unauthorised websites, said MHRA acting head of enforcement Nimo Ahmed.


"The dose could be too high or too low, or the ingredients could break down incorrectly in the body, which makes the medicine ineffective," Mr Ahmed said, adding that people could also fall victim to credit card or identity fraud or download a computer virus.


Royal Pharmaceutical Society head of corporate communications Neal Patel said it was hugely worrying that prescription medicines were available from illicit websites and urged patients who bought medicines online to make sure they used a genuine pharmacy.


Have patients spoken to you about buying medicines online?

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