90,000 illegal prescription medicines seized

90,000 units of illegal prescription medicines have been seized in Ireland.

The Interpol operation, led here by the Health Products Regulatory Authority (HPRA), Revenue and Gardaí, took place earlier this month.

The illegal medicines, worth over €375,000, form part of a seizure of over 10 million dosage units across 60 countries.

The majority of the medicines seized in Ireland were steroids, sedatives and erectile dysfunction drugs.

  • Anabolic steroids - 29,518 units
  • Sedatives - 25,241 units
  • Analgesics - 5,477 units
  • Erectile dysfunction - 5,700 units
  • Other (small quantities) - 14,009 units

Dr Lorraine Nolan, Chief Executive of the HPRA, says the find is worrying and emphasised the health risks of purchasing medicines from illegal sources, highlighting in particular the issues pertaining to unprescribed anabolic steroids.

"Falsified medicines and medical devices can appear legitimate, but we can’t stress enough that there are simply no guarantees as to what is contained in these products," said Dr Nolan.

Members of the public are putting their health at significant risk by buying medicines from unverified and unregulated sources. Laboratory analysis of products detained has shown that these illicit medicines often contain too little or too much of the active ingredient.

The HPRA, Revenue’s Customs Service and An Garda Síochána have targeted, on an ongoing basis throughout 2018, illegal online supplies, including through social media, coming into and within Ireland.

This ongoing action has from January 1 to the end of September, led to the detention of nearly 400,000 dosage units of illegally supplied online medicines valued at €1.39 million.

This ongoing focus in Ireland has also resulted in 14 social media pages and 10 e-commerce advertisements being taken offline.

In addition, 56 websites were investigated to force them to either close or cease selling medicines into Ireland.

The HPRA has launched a campaign entitled ZeroGains, which aims to highlight health risks involved in buying medicines from unverified and unregulated sources.

Digital Desk

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