Sedatives, erectile dysfunction drugs and steroids: 600,000 doses of illegal medicines seized in 2018

By Steve Neville

More than 600,000 doses of illegal medicines were seized in 2018, figures from the Health Products Regulatory Authority (HPRA) revealed today.

The regulatory agency revealed that in 2018, 619,213 dosage units of falsified and other illegal medicines (including tablets, capsules and vials) were detained in 2018. That figure is down from 948,915 in 2017.

36% of the illegal products were sedatives, 18% were erectile dysfunction medicines and anabolic steroids made up 16%.

The HPRA figures showed that 10 prosecution cases were initiated and a further 14 voluntary formal cautions were issued in 2018.

The HPRA said that sedative detentions showed a small but continued decrease last year with 220,457 units detained, compared to 222,470 in 2017 and 271,545 in 2016.

They also said that anabolic steroids remain an area of focus. Some 98,055 anabolic steroids were detained in 2018. This compares to 449,411 in 2017 - when there was "one significant enforcement action where a substantial detention was made".

Releasing the figures, the agency has reiterated its warning to the public of the dangers of sourcing prescription medicines online or from other illicit sources.

John Lynch, Director of Compliance at the HPRA, said: "We remain concerned that members of the public are continuing to put their health at significant risk by buying medicines from unverified and unregulated sources.

"Analysis of the figures shows that there is a continuing and worrying trend of consumers in Ireland seeking to source illegal prescription medicines," he said.

While we welcome a decrease in the total number of dosage units detained in 2018, over the past five-year period more than 4.1 million units of illegal prescription medicines have been detained by the HPRA.

Every single one of these tablets, capsules and vials intercepted is important and is one less illegal medicine that could cause harm.

Mr Lynch added: "We cannot stress how dangerous it is to source prescription medicines from the unregulated market."

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